Saturday, April 23, 2016


   A surprisingly good directorial debut from newcomer Gerard Johnstone, Housebound is pretty awesome. It's a horror comedy that knows when to be creepy and when to be funny. It never entirely substitutes one for the other. It's easy to expect a horror comedy to delve deeper into it's comedy, and to make the punchline of each 'scary' scene a joke, but Housebound isn't about that. It actually has a really interesting story to tell, and a few well written twists to keep you guessing along the way. I thoroughly enjoyed Housebound. What's not to like?

   The movie follows Kylie, a young woman who's troublemaking ways lands her under house arrest at her mom's house which she begins to suspect is haunted. I'm actually no stranger to horror flicks from New Zealand, and I usually like them a lot. Housebound is no exception. It manipulates it's concept in clever and unexpected ways, ending up being a sub-genre mashup of a horror movie. Is it a ghost movie? A slasher flick? Both? Neither? I couldn't have told you for sure until the last act, which was superb. And, kudos to the filmmakers for not only the story, but for a host of funny and interesting characters.

   Kylie could have easily been a thoroughly snobbish and unlikable person throughout the movie, but eventually you begin to relate to her and selling that kind of character arc convincingly is no small feat. I feel she ended up being a smart and fun character. She's put in all kinds of odd situations and it's pretty enjoyable to watch. The supporting characters are often just as fun. From the home security guy, Amos, to Kylie's new step dad- who could've easily been a cliched mess ends up being pretty cool precisely for how anti-cliche he is. Her mom is pretty funny as well, no complaints there. In fact, all the supporting actors are great.

   The house itself is somewhat of it's own character as well. It's full of old stuff, collecting dust, and a basement that looks like it could belong to just about any average family- with ridiculous holiday decorations, and a Jesus statue that precisely nobody needs. You can tell all this stuff has a lot of memories for this dysfunctional family, and it ends up being pretty touching at times. I had felt at first that the movie was going to be pretty standard stuff, and the first act might seem that way to just about anybody, but if you stick it out, it's really worth it.

   It's a simple movie, but a good time regardless. It's twists make the movie nothing but more enjoyable and even interesting. It's often absurd, crazy, and all too real, but all in a surprisingly good-natured way. I didn't expect to like Housebound as much as I did, but... well, I did. It turned the typical haunted house concept on it's ear, and played around with it a bit. I don't wanna spoil anything for you, because I seriously recommend the movie. It's on Netflix right now. Go for it. It's a unique movie that's a heck of a good time with a dark sense of humor that can be as subtle as it can be over-the-top.

   Housebound is destined to be a genre favorite. Maybe not exactly a classic, but certainly a favorite. It's a harmless flick that while never achieves greatness or infamy, manages to do what it sets out to do, and does it exceptionally well: entertain.

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