Hailing from New Zealand, Housebound is a horror comedy that delivers plenty of both. Written and directed by Gerad Johnstone, it tells the story of Kylie, a troubled young woman who is arrested after a botched robbery. Her punishment is eight months home detention at her estranged mother’s, a small town gossip who is convinced her house is haunted. However, when Kylie herself starts to experience supernatural goings-on, she discovers that her mother may not be as crazy as she thinks as the home’s dark past comes to light.
This low budget gem is one of the years biggest surprises, as Johnstone confidently marries multiple genres with impressive clarity. It’s darkly hilarious throughout and manages to consistently keep you on the edge of your seat, especially in the film’s wonderfully twisted act. The twists and turns that the story takes are inventive and terrifying as the film flits between imagined and real threat, which only increases the tension and deepens the mystery.
Less satirical than last year’s vampire spoof What We Do In The Shadows, Housebound has more in common with the early films of Peter Jackson who, before The Lord of the Rings, proved himself a master of gory horror with films such as Bad Taste and Braindead. Whilst this doesn’t have the same amount of blood and guts as either of those movies, it captrues the edgy sense of fun that Jackson’s earlier pictures had and even deals with some of the same themes – maternal bonds and the darkness that can reside within a small town community.
The central performances from Rima Te Wiata and Morgana O’Reilly, who respectively play warring mother and daughter, are terrific, playful and feel real. Wiata is hilarious as Miriam and O’Reilly is a great ass-kicking lead.
Housebound made me laugh, made me jump and made me tense, perfectly balancing the comedy and horror. Made on a small budget, it’s proof of what can be achieved with a tight script, excellent performances and practical visual effects. Out in cinemas and VOD, you can even enjoy this in the comfort of your own home – so turn the lights off, turn this on and I guarantee you’ll have a great deal of fun with it.
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