Director – Gerard Johnstone (feature debut)
Cast – Morgana O’Reilly, Rima Te Wiata, Glen-Paul Waru, Cameron Rhodes
Plot – Petty criminal and all round trouble maker Kylie (O’Reilly) is sentenced to house arrest in her childhood home in which her ghost believing mother Miriam (Wiata) lives. When Kylie also starts to feel like they might not be alone in the house things start to get a little out of the ordinary.
“Anyone who says there’s no such thing as a bad egg obviously hasn’t worked in social services”
Review by Eddie on 23/03/2015
Alongside the destined for cult status What We Do in the Shadows, Housebound suggested to the world that New Zealand had made a play for the crown in regards to Horror/Comedy kings in 2014. Both films are unwaveringly original in many respects, fresh DIY movies that don’t let a meagre budget get in the way of a good story, but like it’s more well-known counterpart, Housebound suffers from some game breaking letdowns that stop it from reaching its full and in sight potential.
It’s interesting to note that already there is solid indication that Housebound has been fast-tracked for a big American remake, suggesting undoubtedly that many in the industry who witnessed Gerard Johnstone’s small scale film knew straight away that what they were seeing was a ripe and unique idea with viable commercial appeal beyond the genre confines of such a tale. Housebound flirts the line between adult originated comedy, haunted house tropes and murder mystery thriller and while at times it manages to uphold all of its genres at once there are other times moments fall awkwardly flat. Moments when this is evident most are largely focussed around the films supposed comic quips or slap stick light gags and the film’s opening half can drag until a downright bananas finale kicks in that takes the film down many an off kilter road that you won’t be able to turn away from.
With a story that goes to some dark and morbid places, what Housebound does incredibly well is in its casts performances. Lead actress Morgana O’Reilly as troubled and ungrateful house arrested daughter Kylie does a fine job at making Kylie an unlikeable yet arrogantly funny character but she is blanketed by fantastically earnest supporting turns from Rima Te Wiata as Kylie’s overly acceptable mother and Glen-Paul Waru as ghost hunting security guard Amos, a man who doesn’t mind late night call outs in his pyjamas. These characters you’d suggest are what made Housebound such a hit in the horror film festival circuit around the world and a darling to some critics, as they help the film overcome some of its glaring and disappointing narrative movements.
Fans of unique horror comedy are more than likely to have an absolute blast with this film, much like genre fans did with the Shaun of the Dead all those years ago, but unlike that film there is something holding Housebound back from mass audience appeal and while some clearly love what they’d seen there will be many that enjoyed their time with Johnstone’s film but were left with the feeling that there was some form of presence holding this one back from greatness.
3 meat loafs out of 5