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article imageReview: ‘Housebound’ compels horror fans with absolute quality Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Oct 17, 2014 in Entertainment
‘Housebound’ is an exceedingly well-crafted haunted house, horror-comedy from New Zealand packed with twists, turns and laughs.
Going home can be difficult, particularly when it forces you to confront everything you ran away from to begin with. Even crueller is to be trapped there, unable to escape the memories or well-meaning family members that lurk around every corner. In Housebound, the worst part about being ordered to go back to the house she grew up in is the unknown threat trying to kill her.
Since leaving her mother Miriam's (Rima Te Wiata) house, Kylie (Morgana O'Reilly) hasn't made the best choices. Her latest lapse in judgement lands her in front of a judge who decides the best way to rehabilitate her is house arrest — under her mother's roof. To say Kylie is displeased by the decision would be an understatement and she makes her discontent known by being a messy, ungrateful guest. But when strange things begin to happen, Miriam’s belief that the house is haunted suddenly seems less ridiculous. Luckily Amos (Glen-Paul Waru), the security guard monitoring Kylie's ankle bracelet, is also an expert in the paranormal eager to lend his assistance.
The Kiwi horror comedy has a fantastic sense of humor that is complemented by appropriate moments of dread. The maniacal talking bear is quite frightening as is the always too dark basement. Conversely, the failed attempt to record any paranormal phenomenon or Kylie's methods of countering the invading force are hilarious. As Amos informs her, “You can’t punch ectoplasm.”
Nonetheless Kylie is a very strong young woman with a bit of a violent streak, which means she is always ready to confront anybody or anything head-on. When something scares her, she doesn’t run the other way but instead does something about it — whether that means sticking her hand in an unpleasant place, exploring a noise alone in the dark or striking back at an attacker. Most of these actions produce amusing results, but you can’t deny her courage.
Te Wiata is another key source of the film’s humour as she naturally rambles on in the most inappropriate situations. Kylie finds her mother’s pointless conversation maddening — until it finally serves a purpose. Waru supplies a more slapstick style of humour typical of a bumbling authority figure; though Amos is at the centre of one of the funniest moments near the end of the film involving a kitchen knife.
Writer/director Gerard Johnstone accomplishes quite a significant feat with his debut feature. Not only does the film deliver laughs and frights, but it also presents a surprisingly engaging storyline with captivating characters. As a result, viewers are absorbed in the narrative from beginning to end. Johnstone immediately draws them in with a comically botched robbery then keeps their attention with potentially supernatural occurrences, an investigation into the possible source and several unexpected discoveries leading to a thrilling finale. Beginning by deconstructing the classic haunted house movie, the expertly crafted throwback then rebuilds the horror piece-by-piece — a thoroughly entertaining process to watch.
Housebound was the opening night film at the 2014 Toronto After Dark Film Festival, which played to a sold-out crowd.
Director: Gerard Johnstone
Starring: Morgana O'Reilly, Rima Te Wiata and Glen-Paul Waru
More about Review, Toronto After Dark, Housebound, comedy horror, Gerard Johnstone
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