Never judge a book by its cover is a common platitude, but should you judge a movie by its title? Avoiding a movie based on its title seems like a perfect way to miss out on great cinema (although I must admit, I’ve yet to see Licorice Pizza, and I can’t absolutely guarantee that the thoroughly unappetizing title hasn’t influenced my avoidance). The converse—choosing a movie based on its title—is a wonderful way to stumble upon hidden gems. That’s how I found Dude Bro Party Massacre III, one of my favorite movies of all time. The title Deadly Garage Sale (2022) has a similar irresistible energy. Sure, it’s going to be trashy and silly and nonsensical, but that’s often a recipe for the perfect movie night.
Deadly Garage Sale begins with a brother, Pete, and sister, Trudee, who rob garage sales. These are careless criminals, showing their faces and engaging with the homeowners before committing the robbery in front of countless onlookers. Soon enough, tragedy strikes. The robbery is botched, Pete takes a dramatic and fatal tumble down the stairs, and Trudee flees the scene.
Soon enough though, Trudee returns, vowing revenge. She is determined to destroy homeowner Marcia’s life. It’s a simple premise, without the twists you’d expect in a thriller like Gone Girl or Woman in the Window. Here, we know the villain’s motive: the only mystery is in seeing if poor Marcia will discover Trudee’s scheme in time.
Deadly Garage Sale takes place in wealthy, snooty, and predominantly white neighborhoods, so racial diversity is definitely lacking. The movie does center a mostly female cast, which is positive. The main character’s struggle is relatable: she leaves her stressful job to find happiness but then struggles with money as she attempts to redirect her career. Given how many people suffered from job loss and overwhelming job expectations during the pandemic, this makes her somewhat sympathetic. However, her solution to her financial issues—to host weekly garage sales to pay her mortgage despite threats from a cruel HOA leader and despite the death of a burglar that happens on her property—make her struggles way less relatable and way more absurd. But isn’t that why we tune into these movies? Did anyone turn on a movie called Deadly Garage Sale and expect a straightforward drama filled with reasonable people making logical decisions?