Director: Gerard Johnstone
Starring: Morgana O’Reilly, Rima Te Wiata, Glen-Paul Waru, Ross Harper, Cameron Rhodes
Written by: Gerard Johnstone
Running Time: 107 mins
Release date: 3rd July 2015
We all like surprises, so when a film comes along that you are not expecting much from, turns out to be a little gem, then life as a film critic can get a whole lot sweeter. That’s what happened after I watched Housebound, a comedy horror from New Zealand. Firstly comedy horrors are hard things to make work, which is why there are only a handful of really good ones (American Werewolf In London, Shaun Of The Dead) and secondly, this is almost direct to DVD stuff. Yet it is well worth checking out.
Kylie is a troubled young woman who, after a failed cash machine robbery, ends up sentenced to house arrest for 8 months with a tag round her ankle and a stay at her mother’s. Not a place that Kylie wants to be, especially with a mother who believes the house is haunted. Dismissing her mother’s reaction to the place, she starts to hear things, which makes her wonder if she has got her mother’s overly active imagination or if there is some truth about the old building.
Gerard Johnstone’s film may not be the most original of tales. There are similarities to Wes Craven’s bizarre cult favourite, The People Under The Stairs. Yet this has so much going in its favour, from the relationship between Kylie and her mother, to the genuine, jump-along moments that occur throughout, to some real laugh-out-loud scenes that just surprise at every turn.
Johnstone’s humour is dark, as you would expect from a horror comedy, yet there’s also a playfulness about some of the sequences that while you are laughing, you are waiting for something shocking to happen. Most of the laughs do come from the horror, as if you need that light relief from the gore.
Yet what he also manages to do is make the characters interesting and fully developed. These aren’t one-dimensional individuals who are there just to be killed off. These are believable, sometimes strange people. From the tough-nosed Kylie to her mother, a softly spoken woman who loves nothing more than a good gossip, to her partner, Graeme, an even quieter man who hides away in his tool room, to Amos, the security officer with a passion for the paranormal. Each is defined and nicely suited to the events.
Played with gusto by all, former Neighbours star, Morgana O’Reilly shines as Kylie, a true kick-ass woman who isn’t just a scream queen but a full-on, gutsy gal who cares for no one but herself. Ably supported by a brilliant performance from Rima Te Wiata as her mother, the pair make for a delicious double act.
Not giving away much of the plot because part of the fun of the film is not knowing too much beforehand. Yet Housebound will probably disappear without much of a trace (released in one London cinema, which is a crime, it is available on demand, so check it out there). I feel that it deserves a much bigger audience and hopefully word of mouth will pull it out from being just another horror film. It’s far too much fun to be ignored.