Housebound (2014) – Gerard Johnstone

 

The Toronto After Dark 2014 winner (and for good reason) hits DVD and Blu-Ray courtesy of Anchor Bay today. I had missed this New Zealand horror-comedy when it screened at TAD this year, because I was in Hawaii, so was glad I was afforded the chance to screen a copy before it’s home video release.

Let me tell you, this one entertained!

I laughed, I even jumped, and even applauded at a number of the bloody/gore moments.

Without giving too much away, here’s the crux of the plot:

Kylie Bucknell (Morgana O’Reilly) is a repeat offender, in and out of treatment homes for petty thefts (one of which gives us a hilarious opening sequence). Since the judge deems that treatment centers aren’t necessarily working for young Kylie, he sentences her to house arrest, in the care of her mother, Miriam (Rima Te Wiata) and her fella, Graeme (Ross Harper).

This situation is far from ideal, as Kylie does not get along well with her mother, and her mother seems to have this strange idea that the house is haunted by a malignant spirit. As Kylie settles in, her foot bracelet monitored by local security, Amos (Glen-Paul Waru), strange things begin to happen in the house, and she starts to wonder if she’s as crazy as she thinks her mother is, or if there is something else going on here… something supernatural.

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I don’t want to give anymore away than that, because half of the joy from this is watching the turns the plot takes, for the most part, for me, I didn’t see them coming, and loved every new revelation. And ohhh! that bear!!!

The best thing about the comedy in this film is that it comes from the characters, they’re naturally funny, they aren’t delivering jokes just to get a laugh, everything just seems to happen organically. It’s a very well-written script.

O’Reilly is quite engaging as Kylie, even when she’s causing trouble and problems for her mom, and you’re shaking your head at her, she’s still entertaining. It also makes the relationship arc between her character and Te Wiata’s character resonate.

The two of them have some great moments together, especially in the film’s last act, when things go totally sideways. Actually, O’Reilly, when paired with anyone in this film, is a joy to watch. Kylie’s interactions with Amos are equally hilarious, especially when it’s revealed that Amos also is intrigued by the paranormal.

This one is just good fun. There are tons of laughs, lots of fun jumps, some brilliant gore (the last one is fantastic!) and each of the actors seems to be having a great time.

The relationships change and develop through the course of the film, as a house, slowly becomes a home again. There’s a brilliant bit when Kylie is treated to a memory lane sequence, which starts out great for her, and then reveals what a bad daughter she actually was…

I thoroughly enjoyed this one, and can’t recommend it enough. If you like a playful horror-comedy, make sure you check out Housebound available from Anchor Bay today!

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