Housebound Written and Directed by Gerard Johnstone
Cast: Morgana O’Reilly, Rima Te Wiata, Glen-Paul Waru, Cameron Rhodes, Millen Baird, Mick Innes, Ross Harper, Ryan Lampp XLerator Media
Not Rated | 106 Minutes
Release Date: October 17, 2014
In Housebound, the feature film debut from New Zealand’s Gerard Johnstone (The Jaquie Brown Diaries), Kylie Bucknell (Morgana O’Reilly) is court-ordered to return to her childhood home after being placed under house arrest.
Her punishment is made worse by the fact she’s cooped up with her mother Miriam (Rima Te Wiata) – a well-meaning chatterbox who’s convinced the house is haunted by a ghostly figure in tattered white cloth.
Initially, Kylie dismisses Miriam’s superstitions as nothing more than a distraction from an unfulfilled life of boiled vegetables and small-town gossip. But when she starts to hear whispers and strange bumps in the night, Kylie wonders if she has inherited her mother’s overactive imagination, or if the house is actually possessed by some kind of hostile spirit.
Kylie remains skeptical until a withered, gnarled hand reaches for her ankle bracelet from a crack in the basement. Convinced that something is definitely up, she gains an unlikely ally in Amos (Glen-Paul Waru), an amateur ghost hunter from her neighborhood who just so happens to work for the security company that monitors her house arrest.
The film really kicks into gear when Amos and Kylie discover an old unsolved murder that could explain everything. In an amusing twist, the key to this mystery is a set of dentures worn by Kraglund (Mick Innes), the kook next door who is constantly burning things in his backyard. The odd-couple paranormal investigators try to snatch the evidence and inadvertently trigger another twist that leads to a surprising and wondrously entertaining finale.
Housebound‘s twisty-turny mystery bounces from scare to scare with the kind of witty energy and enthusiasm of Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead and Peter Jackson’s early films like Dead Alive and The Frighteners. Johnstone’s debut is a lot of fun, and Morgana O’Reilly is a terrific lead with great timing. Her character starts as a thug (like the kids from Attack the Block) and transforms into a heroine worth cheering for.
Equal parts spooky and silly, Housebound is a refreshing entry in the haunted house subgenre. Its utterly charming, heartfelt moments will completely disarm you – while the film’s numerous twists and reveals will delight you in the way recent films like Cabin in the Woods and You’re Next have – by taking viewer expectations and genre conventions and flipping them on their head. Johnstone’s feature debut is a blast – a funny, exhilarating spookshow that reminds me of why I fell in love with the horror genre to begin with.
Distributed by XLerator Media, Housebound hits theaters, Video on Demand, and iTunes on October 17th. Check out the trailer below!