Housebound

Housebound movie poster

Release: Friday, October 17, 2014 (limited)

[Netflix]

Written by: Gerard Johnstone

Directed by: Gerard Johnstone

Housebound heralds the arrival of a creative new talent in Gerard Johnstone, and though not always the most confident, his feature film debut functions as a perfectly harmless distraction that adds a few amusing wrinkles in the fabric of haunted house horror.

It centers around a young, moody twentysomething — Kylie Bucknell (Morgana O’Reilly) — who gets caught in the act of trying to relieve an ATM of its contents. Because of her recidivistic tendencies she’s sentenced to eight months of house arrest, a light punishment all things considered. But this means she’ll have to put up with her irritating mother Miriam (Rima Te Wiata) and step-father Graeme (Ross Harper) — gasp, the horror! The former seems to think the house is possessed by spirits, while the latter utters nary a word as he’s never been a talkative fellow.

Added to Kylie’s suffering is the fact she’s been fitted with an anklet that will alert authorities, the seemingly lone wolf Amos (Glen-Paul Waru), if she tries to leave the premises. What’s a girl to do if she can’t go out every night and burglarize the shit out of everything with her wayward friends? I guess just sit there and pout.

Credit Johnstone for casting an atypical lead in his first film, and O’Reilly for selling her character’s detachment from society. Unfortunately she’s too good at it; it’s a little hard to root for her when she begins experiencing some of the things that has recently sent her mother into hysterics. Completely insensitive to the needs of others, Kylie isn’t someone who seems ready to change their ways and would rather mope around for the next few months until the shackles have been lifted. Or am I just overlooking the fact that perhaps her cloudy disposition is part of the comedic appeal?

One thing that’s more frustrating than Kylie’s selfish behavior is the dynamic between her and Amos. As she slowly comes into an understanding that the house she finds herself in has a dark history — it once served as a halfway house and was the site of a grisly murder — she has trouble convincing anyone else of what’s going on. But . . . wasn’t her mother the one phoning in to a radio show to publicize her paranoias? And why isn’t Amos believing her? He oscillates between being overly protective of the young woman and skeptical to the point of accusing her of lying about everything she’s going through.

Alas, Housebound becomes one of “those” movies — the kind where everything we witness apparently comes at the expense of our protagonist’s credibility. Her frustration becomes our frustration. That is, until things take a turn for the worse when Kylie and Amos together turn their attention toward a suspicious neighbor, whom they believe could be responsible for things going bump in the night. As we’ve expected all along there’s more to this scene than what meets the eye.

Johnstone’s debut is fascinated with the concept of seclusion and secrecy, applying it to elements both physical and conceptual. As I’m obligated to keep spoilers out of my reviews to keep my readers from turning on me in a quick and hostile manner, suffice it to say his technique is what sustains the entertainment rather than the actual, tangible elements themselves. Even if Housebound gets a little too overexcited in its grander reveals — people living inside walls notwithstanding — perhaps it’s best to resist the urge to overanalyze. Like Kylie, maybe it’s in our best interests to sit back and just let this phase run its course.

things get a bit messy for Morgana O'Reilly and Rima Te Wiata in 'Housebound'

Recommendation: Housebound serves as another welcomed entry into the steadily growing marriage between comedy and horror. It does enough to satisfy casual horror fans who like their stuff more on the light-hearted side though it features a few grisly scenes and enough blood to satiate more serious horror watchers. Not a perfect film but it’s solid enough to make me want to come back for more. 

Rated: NR

Running Time: 107 mins.

Quoted: “I am not the only one who thought there was a ghost in this house, Kylie. In fact, you used to be so terrified you could not sleep.” / “Yeah, I also used to think the Moon was made of cheese. It is called childhood.”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com 

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10 thoughts on “Housebound

  1. My Dearest Pubes,

    FIVE?????????? I think this should have received 12 pieces of pie out of eight. I loved this so much! I might have to administer a good rogering.

    Love,

    Ipes

    #teameugene

    • Haha yeah it’s pretty fun but it just lacked something for me. But in fairness, a 5/8 isn’t so bad. it boils down to 63%, so that’s not in any way negative. 😉 Plus the main character got on my nerves pretty quickly. . .and her mother too. And Amos. And everyone who wasn’t Eugene. Haha!

  2. Heard many good things about this. New Zealand is garnering itself a good reputation of late for horror comedies, what with this and What We Do In The Shadows. Always great to read a Tom review!

    • I much prefer WWDITS to this but Housebound has some interesting things going on. I will def be keeping those Kiwis on my radar going forward. Cheers Mr Man Sir! 🙂

    • 5/8 = roughly 63% (if we want to be technical). Ain’t too bad! I can’t believe it’s got a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes if you check it out there, but then again that’s a consensus of like 60-ish reviews total. I figured mostly New Zealand-based reviews. Housebound certainly has a lot going for it. I felt it just diminished in strength as the reveals kept coming. And the central character was a complete twat. 😉

  3. YAY! I am glad to see that you enjoyed it, flaws and all. There were so many things that I liked about this. Kylie was a bitch, but I think that it worked really well. I can talk about this for ages, but we have covered most of it 🙂 I was exceptionally entertained, and I think we are coming up on rewatch time!

    PS: Eugene!

    • Eugene effing rules! \m/ \m/

      Yes, I’m glad I took a look at it as well. I’ll definitely be glad to re-watch, which is more than I can say about a lot of horror films these days. Haha!

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