Directed by Gerard Johnstone
When Kylie Bucknell is sentenced to home detention, she's forced to come to terms with her unsociable behaviour, her blabbering mother and a hostile spirit who seems less than happy about the new living arrangement.
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★★★★ review by Hollie Horror on Letterboxd
Housebound is an unpredictable, suspenseful horror comedy and, to my delight, you can add hilarious and heartfelt to the ongoing list of adjectives. It's nice to know that the creative and unique horror comedy is alive and well in New Zealand.
Throughout the entire movie I never knew what was going to happen next and it was such a welcomed feeling of the unknown, it's not often enough that a genre film can keep me on my toes as I have a firm grip on my husband's arm, just in case the next scene sent me flying.
Kylie is a troubled young woman with a drug addiction that has landed her in and out of rehabs, after her latest run in with the law, the judge denies her lawyer's request for another treatment facility, insisting that maybe what she needs is 8 months house arrest under her mother's roof. Kylie's mom, Miriam is a chatty kathy who is charmingly naive and sweet. She's married to Kylie's stepfather, the silent and sturdy soundboard of Miriam, Graeme. As the three try to adjust to their new living arrangement, Miriam's claims of living in a haunted house are soon investigated by Kylie and her house arrest security guard (with a penchant for paranormal investigation), Amos.
I have a feeling Housebound will be a great movie to revisit and pick up on things the second or third time around, and I will undoubtedly watch this movie again. There were so many little nods in the background, seemingly unimportant. For example, there's an afghan blanket on the back of the couch that looks just like the blanket that was draped over the couch on the American sitcom, Roseanne and towards the end of the film, it looks as though one of the characters is wearing a tattered Freddy sweater. These subtle inclusions were refreshing and adorable.
Made for less than $300,000, Housebound insists on telling us an unpredictable, original story with believable, brilliant performances; not dazzling us with state of the art effects and hot, young stars in a constant state of undress, hoping to distract the audience from the banality of the script.
Housebound reaches out from under your couch, grabs on to your ankles, keeping you firmly planted in your seat and what happens next will amaze you, as the characters in front of you manage to reach out through the screen and grab on to your heart.
★★★★ review by DirkH on Letterboxd
It shouldn't be surprising anymore that some of the best horror films come from Down Under these days. Housebound is no exception.
Crafted with a brilliantly off beat sense of humour, Housebound is a horror film that is not set out to scare you, but to entertain. It does so by unashamedly relishing in horror conventions, perfectly balancing scares with laughter and gore.
All this works so well because Housebound understands two things really well. You need a good story and you need great characters. And boy does it ever. The mother and daughter are characters that slowly grow on you. Not very relatable at first, but as the story progressed so did my appreciation of them. It even manages to find some genuinely emotional moments.
It has everything to do with a gem of a story. The script is perhaps a tad too long, but the way it unravels is superb. You never really know where it will go next, making every twist and turn a delight and the eventual conclusion a rare treat.
Housebound is a film which will, if you allow it to, completely win you over
★★★★ review by Arielrocks5 on Letterboxd
Clever film. Clever, clever film.
It seems that if you're looking for some fine modern horror/semi comedies, the best place to look is down under. Between the likes of "What We Do in the Shadows", "Deathgasm", and now "Housebound", the sub genre really hasn't been this genuinely smart in a long time.
While Gerard Johnstone's directorial debut mostly leans more towards the horror side of things, it still manages to keep a great amount of dark wit to add some levity to the more intense moments.
The classic "People trapped in Haunted House" scenario gets turned on its head for the sake of compelling mystery thrills with its lead characters. I don't really want to go into much of the plot since I went into this blind and I've learned that it's better to do that with these types of films, so sorry if this ends up cutting a bit shorter than usual.
It's a tightly directed and written film that only starts to show some flab in the second act, which sadly drags it down a tad. It's a damn fine looking film too, for one with so little verity in locations and a climax taking place within the most uninteresting of places.
Performances across the board are damn fine too, with Morgana O'Reilly stealing the show as our lead character, Kylie. Regardless of genre, I could watch this girl do whatever the hell she wants all day and I'd probably be entertained by it.
Anything really holding it back are some unneeded fake out jumpscares that happen more often than I'd prefer, the aforementioned flabby second act that drags some of the pacing down, and a small, but noticeable plot hole that I'm not sure got explained in some way regarding one of those kind of Teddy Ruxpin toy things.
But overall? "Housebound" is a damn fine piece of work that's more than worth your time, keeping balance of compelling mystery, thrills, and even laughs for fans of dark comedic delivery.
It's on Netflix too, so if anything I said sounds up your alley, this comes highly recommended.
★★★★ review by Esteban Gonzalez on Letterboxd
“Are you familiar with the term dissociative identity disorder?”
After having watched the hilarious New Zealand mockumentry, What We Do in the Shadows, I decided to follow it up with another Kiwi film written and directed by first time director Gerard Johnstone. Housebound is yet another brilliantly crafted film that manages to blend the horror and comedy genres together in such a way that the film excels at both things. Usually when you have a film like this, it is either more concerned in delivering on the comedy or on the horror, but very few times does it actually manage to do so on both ends. Housebound is a parody of horror films while at the same time maintaining a creepy an unsettling atmosphere. The story takes several unexpected twists and turns and everything is explained extremely well. At first you think it’s going to be a parody of haunted houses or supernatural horror movies, then it becomes a suspenseful mystery, and it continues to deliver twists up to the very end of the film. The film doesn’t suffer from dissociative identity disorder because it knows exactly where its taking its audience and it pokes fun at all the horror cliches we’ve seen over the past couple of decades in a very inventive way. You have the jump scares, the supernatural elements, the creepy music, the crime solving mystery elements, and even domestic drama between a mother and a daughter all mixed together with a great amount of humor.
The first forty minutes of the film did feel a bit tedious and I didn’t understand where the story was going. It was hard to like the main character of this film, Kylie, played by Morgana O’Reilly because she was completely into herself and treated her mother horrendously. After a robbery goes wrong she is caught by the police and forced by the court to home detention for eight months. She doesn’t get along with her mother Myriam (Rima Te Wiata) who is always gossiping about the small town nor her silent stepfather. Forced into this situation she is someone hard to sympathize with. Her home welcoming doesn’t get any brighter when she begins to hear and see things, thus fearing the house is haunted. Amos (Glen-Paul Waru) is a security guard from the neighborhood who happens to be a ghost hunter aficionado so when he hears about what is going on in the house he becomes interested in helping them out. Amos is perhaps the most sympathetic character in the film and there is a scene near the forty minute mark where he slaps Kylie in the face for being so self centered. After that scene, Kylie’s attitude changes and her character becomes much more sympathetic. We begin rooting for her and as each new twist unfolds before our eyes the plot becomes richer and richer. The final third act is extremely fun and it blends the horror and comedy elements perfectly. The opening act which I didn’t enjoy at all suddenly became an interesting buildup when I thought about it in retrospect and I ended up enjoying Housebound more than I was expecting to.
Perhaps some audiences might feel the same way towards the opening of this film, but trust me if you stick with it you will be rewarded because the story becomes much more gripping and funnier (and the main character does become more likable). It is a very inventive and unique film and it delivers on both ends so if you are a fan of any of these genres you won’t want to miss this. It is also a film that benefits from the audiences knowledge of horror genre conventions and it enjoys playing with them and pulling the rug under their feet. Johnstone has managed to deliver a solid feature debut and he seems to have a lot of knowledge about movies. I will be looking forward to what he comes up with next because this was a very fun and entertaining movie. There are many memorable scenes and the unfamiliar actors all deliver solid performances. It is rare to find a film like this that becomes so unpredictable despite all the genre conventions and you honestly don’t know what direction it’s going to take next.
★★★★½ review by Arielrocks5 on Letterboxd
I love how familiar the house is to any viewer who has spent a day with their relatives. From the wall paper, the furniture, the TVs, bathroom, bedrooms and so on, we've all been in a house like this at least once in our lives, be it in childhood, a family reunion, or just a recent visit.
It's because of this that "Housebound" exploits a fear of unease of being in such a familiar involvement with the subtlest of changes causing chills to go down the main character (and viewer)'s spine. A creaking door, a weird noise flowing through the pipes, wandering down in the basement, all of these are simple, subtle little fears and creeps, but it's what's underneath them that matters most.
Johnstone flips the viewers' expectations like a coin so well and so often, it's impossible to tell what could come next, and it's scarier (and funnier) because of it. Helps as well that for his (at time of writing) only feature film, he does the best he can with so little.
I wasn't aware of how much this movie cost to make until tonight, and the fact that a movie with production design this tight and beautiful, direction this good, and writing this sharp was made for less than 250,00 thousand, shows you the age old phrase "less is more" means a lot more now than ever.
This movie is still on Netflix, so if you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it.
(I also highly recommend watching it with other people/reading Quinn Bailey's review too; letterboxd.com/qjtbailey/film/housebound/ )
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