Written and directed by Gerard Johnstone
Screened at Grimmfest 2014
After attempting to rob an ATM machine, Kylie Bucknell is ankle tagged and placed on home detention by the courts to rehabilitate her, except the punishment is not to be carried out at her own home, but instead with her blabber-mouth mother and suffering step-father at her family home. It doesn’t take long for the mother and daughter to clash, with Kylie’s mother Miriam obsessed with the idea that a spirit lives in their house. Whilst first dismissing the idea as one of her mother’s acts of wild imagination, Kylie too begins to question the possibility of an otherworldly presence after hearing bumps in the night. Is it all in her mind from being couped up with her mother, or is there in fact a distressed spirit living within the home?
Kiwi comedy horror thriller HOUSEBOUND takes the idea of a ghost story and turns it into a barrel of laughs thanks to lead stars Morgana O’Reilly, as rebellious daughter Kylie, and Rima Te Wiata as Kylie’s nagging mother, Miriam. The chemistry between these two characters is amazing to watch, with the two producing a believable mother/daughter relationship albeit an hilarious one. Kylie’s not one to listen to her mother. Like a spoilt teenager, Kylie tantrums, rolls her eyes, smokes in the home at every opportunity and hogs the TV when her mother wants to watch Coronation Street. Meanwhile, Miriam gossips, nags her daughter, rings up radio shows telling embarassing stories and is generally rather cuckoo. Kylie gets on better with her mother’s partner Amos (a terrific Glen-Paul Waru), who’s quiet,kind and leaves Miriam and Kylie to their bickering.
After believing her mother is a loopy, Kylie begins to hear noises and see things in the night herself. Is her mother’s wild imagination rubbing off on her or could there really be something else with them in the house? When Kylie discovers important information about the history of their home, she starts to believe that her mother could be telling the truth after all…
Amidst all the laughs that HOUSEBOUND generates, the film still stays strong to its horror roots by telling a creepy haunted house story. By the time the final third of the movie comes, the film focuses more on scares and tension whilst balancing the humour, an act which works rather well. Director Gerard Johnstone manages to keep the horror aspect of the movie believable rather than it becoming a joke that cannot be taken seriously. This is a hard thing to accomplish as we’ve seen in many zom-com’s where the horror in it is rarely ever threatening due to the overdose in humour. HOUSEBOUND has the right balance, with more humour where it needs it, and then sprinkling laughs where it needs to take a back seat in favour of the horror plot.
Brilliant comedic performances from the cast makes HOUSEBOUND a blast to watch. The horror side of the story isn’t quite as strong when all comes to all, but as a package, HOUSEBOUND works very well indeed. Definitely one to check out!