2014 | dir: Gerard Johnstone | 109m
After seeing Housebound brought up briefly in a discussion thread, I headed immediately into the movie with entirely way too much expectation. As it stands, anything I've seen out of New Zealand in this horror/comedy genre has been top notch, so it seems like the film was destined to disappoint, which is entirely on me. Housebound is pretty simple in premise, but in practice is a nicely layered film. We follow Kylie Bucknell facing house arrest and serving that time at her mother's house which, conveniently enough, is haunted. Kylie is a difficult character to like at the beginning, and her path seems practically predestined from the beginning, which led me to believe the film would lean heavily into the comedic horror of the genre classification tags. As it is, the first half the film succeeds in being pretty creepy, but also such a slow moving film that I found myself checking the runtime and wondering to myself what I've gotten myself into. There are jump scares that felt out of place to my expectations, and more in line with a traditional fright feature, but felt out of place with a cast of amusingly idiosyncratic characters. Resisting the urge to start browsing my phone, I persevered and was rewarded with a wild theatrical third act that disarranged my previous expectations with some clever chaos, plot twists and ultimately a satisfying finish for our criminal friend. It's a testament to heading into a film with expectations in check, something that I failed to do for Housebound and regret: I'm able to look back and properly appreciate the cast of characters, some truly good humour and some incredible suspense with frightening scenes that bests many genre films.
3.5 / 5