Monday, 10 August 2015


I first heard about Housebound last year when it was out in the cinema. Of course, being a low-budget horror/comedy from New Zealand, it wasn't exactly being shown in every cinema here in Ireland. So, I waited. Then it was released on Blu-Ray and DVD in America. So, I waited some more. After a very long wait to check it out, Housebound is finally here. However, does it live up to expectations?

Directed, written and edited by Gerard Johnstone and out now on Blu-Ray and DVD comes Housebound; an enjoyable comedy horror that offers up some laughs, scares and one pretty big twist. Housebound opens up with our heroine Kylie Bucknell trying to rob money out of an ATM. However this isn't some grab and dash job, as there's also dynamite involved. She's quickly caught due to her getaway car seizing up, but instead of the law throwing her in the slammer, Kylie is promptly sent back to her parents house and put under house arrest. Though her personality was already pretty caustic to begin with, with her parents added to the mix she becomes lazy, slobbish and a pain in the arsehole to be around. However, things take a turn when Kylie hears her mum on a paranormal radio show saying that their family house is haunted. Though Kylie doesn't believe her at first, strange goings on start to pop up throughout the house. With Kylie under house arrest and things going bump in the night, she soon works together with the security officer who installed her ankle bracelet, Amos, to find the source of the ghostly activity.

Housebound is very much a comedy horror in the vein of Shaun of the Dead. It jumps from scares to slapstick in an instant, and in general will manage to please fans of both genres. Throughout the film there's plenty of funny moments, and thankfully most of them aren't really in your face. They're done though small interactions with people, funny and inventive actions scenes and, most importantly, the overall humour and likeability of the film comes from the characters themselves. Everyone in Housebound is a little off kilter, wonderfully written and throughout the film you'll genuinely care about them. While everyone here is great, Morgana O'Reilly is especially fantastic as Kylie. She's unlikeable at first, but she quickly grows on you as there's always a hint of decency, respect and guilt from her performance. Her journey in Housebound is effectively her way of redeeming herself after a few years of turning on those who love her, and by the end of the film her character is nice wrapped up.

Housebound starts off perfectly. With Kylie under house arrest and an apparent ghost dicking around in the house, there's a superb sense of dread that keeps the film tense early on. There's a scene in which Kylie goes down into the basement to get her phone that keeps ringing. Complete with an old dusty basement and a massive statue of Jesus, it's eerily set-up and accumulates in a grey ghostly hand grabbing her ankle. I thought that the film would build upon this kind of horror, but it kind of doesn't. I wasn't expecting an unrelenting horror film, but it quite quickly throws out its simple horror premise for a bit of a clumsily cobbled together whodunnit plot. From there Housebound kind of goes it a bit mad, and though it stays fun and unique until the credits, it ended up not being the film I wanted to watch in the first place. That's not to say the plot is bad- it isn't- but I think it had more potential to be great by keeping it a little more simplified.

Overall Housebound may not have been what I hoped it would be, but it's still a really fun watch. It's creepy, packed with some pretty unique characters, and has a fair few plot twists that will take you off guard. All in all, Housebound is a great feature film debut by Gerard Johnstone, which is topped off by the very watchable Morgana O'Reilly.

will make you check your cupboard before bed tonight. 4/5.


Denis Murphy

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