The upcoming horror comedy Housebound finds a young woman named Kylie placed on house arrest. She returns to her family home to carry out her sentence. Things are further complicated by Kylie’s strained relationship with her mother – who is convinced the house is haunted. But when Kylie starts to think her mother may be right, she finds herself questioning her own sanity.
Housebound is written and directed by New Zealander Gerard Johnstone. It stars Morgana O’Reilly as Kylie and Rima Te Wiata as her mother Miriam . The film is made up of relative newcomers both in front of and behind the camera. This marks writer/director Gerard Johnstone’s first feature film and both leads had primarily worked in television prior to their involvement with this picture.
I had extremely high expectations going into Housebound. It has garnered rave reviews from a variety of genre film outlets and mainstream media critics alike. And I am pleased to say that every bit of praise the film has garnered is well-deserved. This title is anything but predictable and constantly finds reason to make its audience laugh.
Housebound has one of the most likable casts of any horror film I’ve seen in years. Johnstone’s script sees the character’s shortcomings put out in the open in an attempt to make the cast more relatable to viewers and that works brilliantly. All of the leads are flawed and ordinary. But it’s refreshing to see a cast of characters that are not perfect yet not abominable either. They are ordinary and thus easy for the audience to identify with. It will be nearly impossible for the viewer not to fall in love with the film’s leads throughout the course of the film.
Rima Te Wiata really shines as Kylie’s mother. She is on point and utterly hilarious. She steals almost every scene in which she appears. Her dialogue is richly scripted by Johnstone but Te Wiata brings it to life with poise and precision. Her observations about everything from Kylie’s parole officer to social mores are witty and perfectly befitting to her character.
One of the things Johnstone does exceedingly well is to take the film in unexpected directions – much in the same way that Honeymoon did. But as with Honeymoon, the unexpected places that this film goes are legitimate. This is not a case of the screenplay making an unwarranted or illogical change of pace. The film never takes a leap of faith without providing its audience with a clear and logical explanation for the tonal shift or new direction.
Some might call Housebound slow burn, but I wouldn’t. Though it does spend a lot of time building to its conclusion, getting there is half the fun. The punchlines and scares that pave the road to the finale are exceptionally well executed and never at any time did I find myself disinterested in what was unfolding onscreen. The ending is absolutely perfect. It’s the kind of conclusion I wish I had written myself. It ties everything together brilliantly and should leave the viewer exceedingly satisfied.
Beyond being a great horror film, Housebound is really a great film, period. It weaves a very endearing backstory regarding Kylie’s relationship with her mother and stepfather. And by the end of the picture, the viewer is likely to become very attached to the cast and is also bound to be impressed by the transition that Kylie makes over the course of the film. She displays much more growth throughout the the picture’s runtime than what we have come to expect from a character in a horror picture.
There isn’t a lot of carnage in Housebound, but what little bloodshed we do see unfold onscreen is phenomenally executed and more than makes up for a slightly lower body count.
This is one of the best horror films to see release this year. Expect to see Housebound on a variety of year end top ten lists. It is really that good.
Housebound is set to be released in select theaters and across VOD platforms on October 17, 2014. Check this one out as soon as you have a chance.
WICKED RATING: 8/10 [usr 8]
Director(s): Gerard Johnstone
Writer(s): Gerard Johnstone
Stars: Morgana O’Reilly, Rima Te Wiata and Glen-Paul Waru
Release: October 17, 2014 (VOD and limited theatrical)
Studio/ Production Co: XLrator Media
Length: 107 Minutes