Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy
By Steve Anderson
October 1st, 2014


Directed by Gerard Johnstone
Written by Gerard Johnstone
Starring Morgana O'Reilly, Rima Te Wiata, Glen-Paul Waru
107 mins

While "Housebound" definitely scores some points for having very freaky box art, that's never been enough by any stretch to hold interest. The question becomes one of whether or not the movie the box art contains can cash the check the box art wrote. So, let's tuck in, and see if a little slice of New Zealand horror can keep up.

"Housebound" follows Kylie Bucknell, who's recently run afoul of the court system and placed on house arrest. Though they apparently call it "home detention" over there. The down side is that the home in question is her childhood home. With her mother. So now, Kylie's back home with Momma Miriam, and Miriam has an odd quirk. She thinks her house is haunted. Kylie, of course, thinks this is patently bonkers, until she starts hearing some of the noises in the night and begins to realize there's more going on than she expected. But will what's going on in the old house be the end of her? Or can she survive to the end of her term?

I give "Housebound" credit, as it really doesn't take long to tuck into the creepy. Better yet, most of the time, when it's not being creepy, it's either being funny or delivering some comparatively worthwhile exposition. Oddly enough, it seems capable of doing almost all three in equal measures. Kylie's punch-it-in-the-face sensibilities are an unusual response to ghost movies in general, and the movie quickly turns into something very interesting. This isn't one of those movies where the ghost is the villain, but rather pointing out something else. This was used to an interesting effect in several recent ghost story films, and this one does the job quite nice.

In fact, "Housebound" is easily one of the most unusual ghost stories I've seen in a while, and that's one that's definitely to its credit. It's got that unusual bit of foreign charm to it--at least, foreign to us North American types--that makes this surprisingly impressive to watch. It's actually quite a lot of fun, and often exciting. It's got a wonderful mix of horror and comedy to it that does quite well. It skews toward horror, but throws in a nifty joke every now and then to cut the tension.

The ending veers nicely between a profoundly messy end for someone and a little bit of a joke besides, an excellent combination of events for a horror-comedy hybrid.

Special features here include trailers for "Ironclad 2: Battle for Blood," "The Scribbler," "Housebound," "Poker Night," and "The Mule." There are also audio options, a commentary track and deleted scenes.

"Housebound" was quite the treat, and though the ghost didn't figure as much into things as I might have liked, the end result was still scary enough, funny enough, and downright entertaining enough to more than merit watching.