Dir: Gerard Johnstone (2014)
New Zealand rejoice! After this year’s rather brilliant What We Do In The Shadows comes this incredibly funny Peter Jackson inspired comic/horror by first timer Gerard Johnstone. Housebound gets the balance between the two genres just right as the troubled and angry young Kylie (Morgana O’Reilly) is sent home under house arrest to her mother’s creepy old woodland home after trying to rob an ATM; But when Kylie catches her mother telling ghost stories on the local radio call in show, things in the house take a turn for the worst.
Like most Kiwis, Housebound has some seriously bizarre ramshackle charm. It’s camera, twisting and turning around the labyrinthian house, owes as much to the old haunted mansion flicks as it does to the post Scream teen slashers. It’s obviously set in the modern world but with a fair grasp of ancient horror conventions and an odd timeless quality; Perhaps Kylie’s electronic ankle monitor is the newest object in the house?
Johnstone knows how to pilfer from 80’s comedy too, making his leading lady a complex, intelligent brooding bad ass. O’Reilly is great in her role, relishing the endless chances to knowingly subvert the final act boredom that should infiltrate the very type of film Housebound is. But as soon as the things that go bump in the night start doing exactly that, we’re taken in to a crazy alternative Hammer horror world where a metal clothes horse or a teddy bear are as dangerous as the gun wielding maniac next-door.
Johnstone swings from laughs to frights within a heartbeat and although Housebound arguably sets itself as a comedy first, there are quite a few perfectly timed jumps and a weirdly unsettling atmosphere. kylie’s blabbermouth mother (an excellent Rima Te Wiata) gets most of the films laughs, playing right up against her daughter’s oh-yah-whatever-ness as she attempts to unravel the mysteries of the family home. There’s ridiculous Stephen King like twists, goofy, left field made for TV humour and plenty of crimson blood in the final act but the greatest thing about Housebound is its gleeful schizophrenia, darting between drama, comedy, thriller and horror like a bat in the night. You won’t think too much about it after, but its bloody good fun.