One of my favorite aspects of film festivals is that with the sheer amount of films being played, there’s no way you can adequately research them all. I take the exact opposite approach and try to know as little about a movie as I can going into it. Considering I went to see Housebound for its world premiere, there wasn’t even any word of mouth or buzz around it to encourage me. Having seen the film, know that I’ll only be the first of many positive reviews that this movie will receive and hopefully that buzz spreads in time for more of you to check out one of the most fun genre films at SXSW. Oh, and before you ask, no, it is NOT an Asylum version of either Homeward Bound nor Houseguest. I’m not going to fall for THAT again.
After an unsuccessful ATM robbery attempt, Kylie (Morgana O’ Reilly) is sentenced to house arrest with her mother Miriam (Rima Te Wiata). Adding to the tension of a drug-addicted daughter having to move back in with her mom and stepdad, Kylie overhearing her mom on a radio call-in show talking about the house being haunted only adds to the frustrations between the two. The more time that Kylie spends at home alone, the more she thinks that maybe her mom is on to something, and after doing some research, she finds out that there actually was a teenager murdered in the house. While trying to give peace to this restless spirit, Kylie starts tracking down who the murderer could have been and learns WAY more than she anticipated, as ghosts are the last of her worries.
HOLY SHIT. GUYS. THIS MOVIE WAS SO MUCH FUN. In typical Kiwi horror movie nature, you can’t have the horror if you don’t have a sense of humor, and the opening robbery was one of the funniest sequences I saw at the whole festival. From there, the story does turn into a familiar haunted house storyline, but the humor of the interactions between Kylie and her mom, as well as stepdad Graeme (Ross Harper) and security officer turned paranormal investigator Amos (Glen-Paul Waru) makes the plot seem fresh. Once the plot gets a little too stale, the story takes it into a surprisingly different direction, making all the humor seem fresh again. The drawback of the film going into so many different directions is it ends up clocking in at almost two full hours, which was noticeable and had nothing to do with having to get to a screening right afterwards. I prefer mysterious, interesting plot points to be under-explained, and would have been okay with details being left to the imagination, but at least they didn’t arbitrarily just throw excuses into the works.
I was probably an hour into the movie when I realized there had been very mild language, only two or three “fucks” scattered in there, no sex, and nothing really close to violence. I kept thinking that it was a great example of how not all PG-13 horror should be dismissed, but as the story progressed, the violence and foul language did intensify. This isn’t a bad thing, but definitely shows that the film was able to creep you out and give some solid jump scares without having to rely on gore. And did I mention this movie was funny? It’s real fucking funny. If you’ve got the two hours to commit to Housebound, check out what will end up being a huge audience favorite that has the scares and the laughs to back it up.
Wolfman Moon Scale