Housebound is a 2014 New Zealand, Horror Comedy written and directed by Gerard Johnstone. Housebound has been well received and for good reason. As it does a masterful job blending dry, dark humor with classic haunted house motif. While a tad on the predictable side doesn’t detract from the film.
Housebound follows Kylie Bucknell (Morgana O’Reilly), who gets arrested for breaking into an ATM and is sentenced to house arrest in her childhood home under the care of her mother Miriam (Rima Te Wiata) and stepfather Graeme (Ross Harper). Kylie slowly starts noticing strange sounds and events in the home and confides her thoughts the house may be haunted to security officer Amos (Glen-Paul Waru), who is an amateur paranormal detective and sets up cameras around the home. But after being unable to find any evidence of a haunting quickly becomes skeptical. However after Graeme lets it slip that the home was once a halfway house and the scene of a grizzly murder. Kylie begins to suspect her neighbor of the murder and enlists the aid of Amos to search her neighbor’s home for evidence. Unable to find evidence and her increasingly chaotic behavior, resulting in the hospitalization of Graeme causes concern with her mother and social worker Dennis (Cameron Rhodes). While Graeme is in the hospital Amos returns to the neighbor’s home, but is discovered. The neighbor reveals that he once had a ward named Eugene (Ryan Lampp), who’s gifted with machines and technology, disappeared a year prior to the murder. Amos also learns the Eugene is Agoraphobic. Meanwhile Kylie discovers Eugene has been living in the walls of her home…
I really loved Rima Te Wiata performance as Kylie’s mother Miriam. She comes off as simple and humble, with her relationship with her daughter being one of the highlights of Housebound. Morgana O’Reilly as Kylie does a suitable performance, but I often found her character to be too unlikable. My favorite performance actually goes to Ross Harper as Graeme, plays the quite and caring stepfather who has a hard time connecting to others fabulously.
Once Eugene is discovered Housebound takes on a strong The People Under the Stairs feel. Something that I took the utmost delight in as The People Under the Stairs is one of my all time favorite Wes Craven films. I like to think that this was an intentional reference by Gerard Johnstone. This ranges from the sets to Eugene’s ashy appearance.
Final thoughts, I enjoyed it. My one complaint was that while predictable the ending isn’t foreshadowed that well. I was mostly able to call the ending just based on how other films I’ve seen that are similar.But where pure originality is lacking, it’s more than made up with the strong script and well-rounded characters. With only one notable exception that I can’t reveal without spoiling the ending. Housebound gets a solid score of 8/10.