Director: Gerard Johnstone
Cast: Morgana O’Reilly, Rima Te Wiata, Glen-Paul Waru
Synopsis: A would-be thief is remanded to the custody of her estranged mother, who turns out to be correct in her assertion that evil spirits are afoot in their family domicile.
There can’t be many less likeable female leads than Kylie Bucknell (Morgana O’Reilly), the moody, perpetually-sulking delinquent in Housebound, a horror movie from New Zealand. She’s not too bright, either, judging from the way she and her equally witless accomplice set about robbing a cashpoint machine. Their inept methods result in Kylie sentenced to 8 months home imprisonment which, for Kylie, is worse than incarceration in a state prison as it means she’s forced to spend time with her slightly ditzy mother (Rima Te Wiata) and retiring stepfather, George (Ross Harper). Even worse, during her enforced stay, Kylie discovers that her new home is a former orphanage in which a young girl was viciously murdered, and becomes convinced that the girl’s troubled spirit is haunting the house.
Despite its rather disagreeable female protagonist – who does at least softer a little bit as the film goes on – Housebound proves to be a sly, funny parody of every horror movie you’ve ever seen (that’s the beauty of the horror genre – you can successfully satirise it’s every single trope in one medium-length movie), and proves you don’t have to take a broad swipe the way that the likes of Scary Movie do. The digs are mostly subtle, and the jokes played straight – which makes them all the funnier. It’s clear that writer-director Gerard Johnstone knows and loves the genre well, and has a firm grasp on what is funny and what isn’t. His crazed killer wears safety goggles and ear defenders when slicing through a door with a power tool, for example. That’s funny because it’s absurd, but also because Johnstone doesn’t draw attention to it.
Housebound is big on both laughs and scares. Not only does it successfully mess around with familiar horror situations, but (one assumes) it accurately identifies the kind of plot holes and continuity errors that plague many low-budget horrors. For example, in one scene a character gets his leg caught in a man-trap, but is then walking about without a limp or visible injury a few scenes later. Perhaps the cleverest thing about Housebound, though, is that, until the last twenty minutes, it’s entirely possible that many viewers won’t even realise it’s a spoof…
(Reviewed 5th September 2015)