Now you may be wondering, "What the hell is 'Housebound'?" You're probably not a complete movie nerd like me, that does his homework on genres and plans out films he wants to get through each year. You're probably someone who only hears about films through Twitter, friends or watching TV. Not that there's anything wrong with that, sorry for generalizing. I love big budget comedies and action films as much as the next person. But, this is a smaller film and most movie goers now-a-days don't want to "work hard" to find good films. I'd be lying though if I said I knew about this little horror comedy film from New Zealand, before it started getting buzz at this years SXSW. I wasn't expecting too much out of this film, but those are the films that usually surprise you. Surprise me 'Housebound' did and I was completely into it from the get go.
'Housebound' follows the story of Kylie (Morgana O'Riley), a small time thief who is sentenced to nine months of house arrest, for trying to rob a bank. Kylie is forced to move back in with her mother, Miriam (Rima Te Wiata), who has been complaining about the house being haunted. Kylie dismisses her mother's complaints and begins her nine month sentence. Once Kylie starts getting into a routine, (her routine is really just getting up, court appointed therapy and eating) she is shocked when strange things start happening to her. Giving her just enough of a push to think that her mother may be onto something. Now Kylie has turned this sentence into a mystery to solve, as she wants to find out why her mother's home is "haunted."
'Housebound' is one of those films, where you go into it expecting one thing and come out of it on the opposite side of what you thought it was gonna be. I was expecting a lot more jump scares and a lot less character development. I wasn't expecting to be so caught up into the mystery aspect of the film as much as I was either. Let me explain all this, since I'm being kinda vague right now. This film isn't straight horror. This is a very nice, but kind-of odd, mix of horror, mystery/thriller and comedy. It really does work on all these levels too. You have the horror of the unknown house, thought to be haunted. Bumps, creaks, whispers and dim-lit stairwells abound in the home. The mystery aspect of why this house could be haunted in the first place and also the story in general. Finally, you have the sarcasm and comedic timing between the well written characters throughout. The writing in 'Housebound' is honestly great because it doesn't take itself too seriously. It also doesn't come off as cartoony or over the top, which a lot of horror films do. The story is pretty damn original and, without giving things away, gets you hooked from the start. The characters are also very well done. They know this isn't a completely serious film, but they don't try to turn them into a bunch of people running around trying to be funny either. You can credit this to the acting as well. Morgana O'Riley who plays Kylie and Rima Te Wiata who plays Miriam, are the cornerstones in this film and they do a great job. Kylie is the daughter who has kind of lost her path in life. While Miriam is the mother who wants to see good come out of her daughter. Both are played to a tee. Glen-Paul Waru, as Amos, Kylie's probation officer, is also great in his supporting role and adds a nice presence whenever he is on screen. The film never feels long either. Despite clocking in at almost two hours, I never felt the film dragging. More importantly, I never felt bored and I quite enjoyed watching this film.
'Housebound' as I mentioned in my introduction, is a film from New Zealand. I can honestly say I've never seen a New Zealand film, unless you count ones that were simply just filmed there. I didn't know what to expect when I started the film, but by the end there was a smile on my face. 'Housebound' is a highly original horror comedy (with a bit of mystery thrown in) that fires on all cylinders throughout. The acting is good, the comedy is funny and the chills are there too. 'Housebound' is a film I just can't help but like.