Housebound

Director: Gerard Johnstone
Screenplay: Gerard Johnstone.
Starring: Morgana O’Reilly, Rima Te Wiata, Glen-Paul Waru, Cameron Rhodes, Ross Harper, Ryan Lampp, Mick Innes, Millen Baird, Bruce Hopkins, Wallace Chapman, David Van Horn.

“But anyone who says there’s no such thing as a bad egg obviously hasn’t worked in social services”

The minute I find myself being critical of comedies and horrors (or the lack of good ones, as the case may be) two splendid film’s come along in quick succession that manage to cut across both genres. After the hysterical Antipodean horror-comedy What We Do In The Shadows – which was hands down the funniest film of 2014 – it’s refreshing to see that New Zealand had yet another one up their sleeve, as well as a promising new writer/director in Gerard Johnstone. 

Kylie Bucknell (Morgana O’Reilly) is a wayward young woman who is court ordered to spent 8 months detention in the house she grew up in. What’s worse is that she has to suffer her talkative but well-meaning mother who has a strong belief that the house is haunted. Wearing a restrictive tag, Kylie is somewhat trapped in her surroundings as strange and unexplained events begin to unravel.In terms of its structure, Housebound is very different from the satirical vampire comedy What We Do In the Shadows. It’s not done in a mockumentary style but instead it channels the old haunted house routine. We’ve certainly seen many film’s over the years that have tried (and failed) to bring something new to this stagnant sub-genre but first time director Gerard Johnstone injects new life into it and skilfully manages to tease something that feels fresh and exciting.

For a start, its marvellously shot and Johnstone shows a competent hand throughout. After opening on a hilariously bungled bank job – involving a sledgehammer and a cash machine – he settles down to introduce his contemptuous and free-spirited housebound protagonist who’s rebellion against her mother (brilliantly played by Rima Te Wiata) and society in general is put to the side to fight against the unknown.Johnstone cranks up the tension with ease and employs a host of genre traits; from randomly talking toys to secret passageways and the revelation that the house was once a looney bin. Even though he goes for the occasional jump-scare moment, he still manages to pull it off and by maintaining an uneasy atmosphere which keeps you in suspense throughout the film’s entirety. What’s most surprising, though, is his ability to mix in some deadpan humour, giving the film another layer of enjoyment. It’s Johnstone’s ability to capture the absurdity in every day moments and objects that bring a real originality to the proceedings. In one of the film’s funniest scenes we find the characters fighting each other with anything that comes to hand – a whisk, a cheese grater and… erm… the restraining properties of a laundry basket. What should be a hilarious scene, is indeed one, but it also has an element of danger and that’s down to brilliant handling from the director.This really is an impressive debut and with the ability that Johnstone displays, you’d never think this was his first outing. The same could be said for his impressive cast of unknowns. All of them handle their roles with the perfect balance to suit the numerous genres that Johnstone so effortlessly combines.New mileage is found from an old format and future cult status is assured. It’s a surprising success all round and so much so, that an American remake is is already in the works.Mark Walker

Trivia: Gerard Johnstone was inspired to do a horror film after watching the British paranormal television series Ghosthunters.

 

 

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44 Responses to “Housebound”

  1. Brilliant review Mark, so happy that you’re back mate. This movie really looks like something I’d definitely dig.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. An American remake that will be sure to be inferior. It’s cool that this is generating that much hype and excitement though. I really would like to see Housebound. Great work duder

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fuck yeah, Muckers!!! One of my favorite movies of 2014!!!

    Boat drinks!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Fine review, Mark. Yeah, caught this finally a couple of weeks back. Fun, original, and no wonder some brain-dead studio exec wishes to bank an American remake.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great review. Only watched half of the film and haven’t had a chance to go back and finish it, but from what I have seen it ain’t too shabby.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This one sounds great Mark, thanks for sharing it. What We Do In The Shadows was one of my favourites from last year!

    Liked by 1 person

    • What We Do… Was a real highlight for me too, Natalie. Funniest film by far from last year. This might not be quite on that level in terms of humour but it still carves it’s own niche. Well worth checking out.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Welcome back mate. Interesting-sounding film. I loved What We Do In The Shadows so I’d like to give this a crack.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cheers bud. I’m slowly creeping back. Not going to rush things as yet.

      I’d definitely give this a go, man. It’s different in terms of structure to What We Do… But still a very clever and inventive little film all the same.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Mate, totally agree. Saw this at a film fest last year with a big crowd and it was a total blast. I rarely find horror-comedy works as both genres. But this one did for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. New Zealand is churning out some great little movies at the moment. I’ve been meaning to check this one out. Nicely done Mark.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Getting here a little late to the party. Loved this. Glad to see you liked it. New Line Pictures is doing a US remake. Foreign horror is putting US horror to shame. I guess if you can’t beat ’em… join ’em. Other than “It Follows” which was pretty good there hasn’t been much out there from the US market.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Dave, sorry for the late reply. Been taking a break lately.

      Anyway, if I remember correctly it was yourself that first recommended this to me? Great shout mate. It was a solid little film and very well made.

      Like

      • Yeah I’ve been taking a break too.

        I saw it before it was released here because my girlfriend loves horror and couldn’t wait for it to be released here… if you know what I mean.

        Check this horror movie out Mark. If Before Sunrise were a horror movie… you get the idea.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Man, that Spring trailer looks superb. I’m gonna get on that. It very interesting.

        Like

  11. I love What We Do In The Shadows. but I’m a wimp with horrors. Too scary?

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s not too scary at all, Jay. It has a lot of humour and manages to balance the horror and comedy very well. I’d give it a go. (Btw, sorry for the late reply. I’ve been on a hiatus at the moment.)

      Like

  12. Ah, Housebound! What a great film! I loved how it successfully balanced both genres. So refreshing.

    Plus, EUGENE!!!!!!!!! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry about the very late reply Zoe. I’ve kinda turned my back on blogging just now. Really wish I could find the enthusiasm to get back into it. 😦

      Anyway, this was a great little flick wasn’t it? And how could you not love Eugene?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Eugene is the best thing! ❤

        It's alright, every now and then I see what's cracking in Scotland and think of how involved you've been. Ah well, one of those things. Sometimes you just need a break you know? I hope you have been well otherwise 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, I’m good otherwise. Politics has consumed me just now. It’s very exciting times in the UK right now and Scotland seem to be leading the fight against a completely right-wing and fascist English govt. It’s hard not to get involved. Man, we are in danger of losing our fuckin Human RIghts and Freedom of Speech if Westminster get their way. It’s barbaric. Scotland will not be part of this so-called “United Kingdom” much longer.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Love to hear the passion you’ve got for it Mark! Be interested to see where this all goes eventually! Politics can get quite intense though, I won’t lie. Although out there people actually have opinions and can count, unlike our beloved little corner of the world here. Ugh :/

        Liked by 1 person

      • It’s very interesting where this could go, Zoe. After the independence vote in Scotland, a lot of people now feel duped into voting No and remaining within the UK. Many could see all this coming though and that’s why we campaigned passionately for a Yes vote and to go our own way. There will be serious civil unrest soon. Things are going to get much worse out here. Watch this space!

        Anyway, hopefully I’ll get back to blogging soon. I do miss it but I’m finding it hard to focus on writing at the moment.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Will keep my eyes peeled and see what happens! You must keep well Mark, and we will see you pop up from time to time 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Cheers Zoe! Hopefully sooner rather than later 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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