Director Yue Ma’s short horror comedy watches a lot like a gory version of “The Stepford Wives.” Much like its predecessor, it’s a movie that centers on domestication and chauvinism, as well as the idealized image of women. All of it is packed with a dark sense of humor, and some great turning of the tables. Much of “Satisfaction Guaranteed” garners an admirably dark sense of humor with a satirical and warped tone from beginning to end.
Set in the 1950’s, Joanna is a stay at home wife whose husband Walter is tough to please, and constantly demanding. Looking for a new way to please him, she visits a new company that promises to improve on the normal woman: Satisfaction guaranteed. After a bizarre surgery, she returns home with some adjustments that just might make Walter happy. If it doesn’t kill him first.
Joanna is a very miserable character when we first meet, as she dotes on her husband endlessly. She even takes a lot of his insults and mental abuse in stride and with a smile. There’s not a ton of explanation as to what the company is that performs Joanna’s adjustments, but it’s a great injection of suspense in an otherwise tongue in cheek short film. It feels almost like a Stephen King short story, where this mysterious element interrupts a character’s home life at just the right moment, and gives them an offer that they can’t refuse.
The promise of “a better life” is undercut by Joanna’s growing resentment toward Walter. Once the screws begin to turn with Joanna’s self, “Satisfaction Guaranteed” really comes full circle with a delightfully blood soaked finale. Alexandra Marian Hensley is stellar in the lead role of Joanna, while Yue Ma and writer Ken Morris deliver a bang up genre hybrid; it’s a great bit of turning the tables that I couldn’t get over, hours after it ended.