As a marvelously entertaining combination of murder mystery, black comedy and domestic drama, Housebound marks an impressive feature debut by director / writer Gerard Johnstone. Unlike many horror comedies it has complete confidence in its tonal control, flicking between different sub – genres and sub – plots while throwing curveball after curveball in an unpredictable mixture of laughter, fear and splatter.
Morgana O’ Reilly stars as troubled Kylie Bucknell, a young women who has been in trouble with the authorities many times and after a failed sledgehammer ATM heist is given one last chance to reform after her latest arrest. Although her sentence is lenient at 8 months, she has to serve it at her mother’s home, with a boundary set, an electronic brace on her ankle and regular sessions with psychologist Dennis (Cameron Rhodes). While being trapped in the house with her insufferable mother Miriam (Rima Te Wiata) and suffering excruciating boredom is a hindrance at the best of times, finding out the house may be haunted is a whole other matter entirely. Cue the entrance of custody tag fitter and part – time supernatural enthusiast Amos (Glen – Paul Waru) bringing a edge of loveable humour to the film and giving you another character to root as the trio investigate the past horrors of the house with surprising revelations.
The film also makes the calculated decision to focus on the three central performances of Glen – Paul Waru, Rima Te Wiata and Morgana O’ Reilly with any single one of the characters having the potential to steal the movie. The overall script is also a shining example of horror pastiche done right, whether it be historical investigation and shifty neighbors or vengeful ghosts and ancient dentures, the script keeps you guessing till the inspired final act twist (which also makes creative use of a cheese grater). While shot on a low budget, Housebound also feels like no compromises have been made by the cast and crew from the razor sharp editing and set design to Mahuia Bridgman – Coopers eclectic score.
Having won the audience award at Scottish Dead by Dawn horror festival and falling perfectly with Frightfest audiences, Housebound’s pitch perfect cast chemistry, fun tone and creepy atmosphere render it one of the best horror comedies out there at the moment and also comes highly recommended from Flickfeast head honcho Kevin Matthews. Plus a New Zealand movie that references Coronation Street scores it a few extra points too.
Director: Gerard Johnstone
Cast: Morgana O’Reilly, Rima Te Wiata, Glen-Paul Waru, Cameron Rhodes, Millen Baird
Runtime: 109 mins
Country: New Zealand