New Zealand has a good track record in my book of releasing movies I want to see. Just off the top of my head that country gave us Peter Jackson, a “were-sheep” movie called, Black Sheep (2006), a creepy adaptation of Maurice Gee’s novel with the same name, Under The Mountain (2009), directed by Jonathon King, who also directed Black Sheep, and the upcoming found footage vampire horror/comedy, What We Do In The Shadows (2014), which I plan on reviewing as well eventually, but first let me introduce you to another Zealand special, Housebound.
As general principle I don’t mind spoilers and have spoiled many a film and TV show on my personal page and my DVD News Flash one, most times inadvertently; if it’s something I really like it just comes as a knee-jerk reaction. Most people hate it. Most times when it comes to my DVD reviews I generally do post spoilers but with a warning highlighted in red that spoilers are coming. Having said all that to properly enjoy Housebound you have to go into it knowing next to nothing about the story, which means I will not be posting any spoilers in this particular review, which also means this review is probably going to be much shorter than others I have written where I’ve been extremely smitten with a movie.
In a nutshell you’ve got a major red herring, a twist in the middle part of the movie, another twist/reveal in the last act and yet another right before the end credits roll (I may be misinterpreting the ending, in which case there is no spoiler before the end credits) not to mention a bloody accident that occurs you just don’t see coming. One of the twists reminded me of two other movies, but to even mention those movies would actually be posting a spoiler, so I will not even be doing that.
What I can say is that it’s horror/comedy and it involves a girl named, Kylie Bucknell (Morgana O’Reilly), who in the movie’s opening is robbing an ATM with another man. This man’s relationship to her is not revealed, nor is it important beyond this opening scene. Just know nothing goes as planned. The man brings an industrialized sledgehammer that bounces back and knocks him out cold. Yeah, I was a little stunned by that happening, and so was Kylie, who resorts to Plan B, stuffing an explosive in and blowing it up to the point where she can extract the money box.
Okay, a bit of a set back with the sledgehammer, but it’s open, she’s got the box and her next plan to get the hell out of there. Not so fast. Her car gets hung up on some kind of parking structure (a jetta bar, from what Johnstone mentions in the commentary, if I’m pronouncing that right) and no matter how hard she guns the engine it’s just not going to move. Oh, and the cops are coming. The camera is filming it from outside the car looking in at her, and while you can hear the police getting close I laughed as she could just barely be heard screaming, ‘Fuuuuuuuuck!!!’ at the top of her lungs as she desperately keeps gunning the engine in hopes of escape.
She’s sentenced to eight months house arrest in her former childhood home, the judge thinking she would benefit from some kind of “stability,” but he doesn’t know there isn’t any stability when it comes to her mother and her stepfather. Regardless, security guy, Amos (Glen-Paul Waru), who’s in charge of keeping watch over her fits her with an ankle monitor, and takes his leave.
An interesting house Kylie grew up in, it’s big, real big, and apparently her mother, Miriam (Rima Te Wiata) and her stepfather, Graeme (Ross Harper), have yet to come into the 21st century, technology speaking. Their computer is dial-up and looks to be from the 90s, I saw VHS tapes stacked on a shelf, her mother comments on the fancy iPhone Kylie has, and there’s a mini-cassette recorder used at one point. Yeah, there’s a lot of analog love in this flick. Truth be told it’s really her mother she doesn’t get along with. I got the impression she simply doesn’t know her stepfather enough to hate him as much as she does her mom.
The court also mandated she get counseling and the lucky man for that job is Dennis (Cameron Rhodes). We the viewer already know Kylie’s a bit of an asshole and we see more of her assholishness with her interactions with Dennis.
Boredom brings her to the radio, and a local call in show that has a caller who sounds awfully familiar. This woman talks of her house having always been haunted and the entity she once saw in the basement. Bumping into her mother seconds later we’re made aware that it was she that called in. When she was young Kylie also believed the house was haunted but she lost that belief when she grew up.
It starts to slowly seep back now that she’s forced to reside in the house and she isn’t the type that scares easy, until she’s lured into the basement one night by her phone’s ring tone which has mysteriously disappeared from her belongings, .and then grabbed on the ankle by a funky looking hand that is.
The paranormal phenomena ramp up, Dennis is assaulted by a phantom, and Amos is revealed to be a believer and a ghost hunter. She and him reluctantly (most of the reluctance is on her part) team up to find out whose haunting their home, and this is where all the great twists and turns come in. One of these involves the next-door neighbor, Mads Kraglund (Mick Innes), who’s a creepy dude and a violent one, depending on who you talk to.
Okay, that’s about as far as I can go with talk of the story.
Sadly, I can relate to any movie that has a family dysfunction angle; this helped immensely I must say relating to the characters. Not only that but I was getting a warm, welcoming vibe from the cinematography and the instrumental music as the opening credits rolled. A good sign for any movie I’m not already familiar with that I’m reviewing, from here on out I just keep my fingers crossed that the plot does not disappoint, and this one surely did not on any conceivable level.
On November 18th XLrator Medie releases the movie here in the US on separate DVD and blu-ray.
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080 p (2.35:1) high definition widescreen—5.1 English DTS-HD Master Audio—English SDH subs only.
The transfer and audio looked and sounded tip top. Period.
For extra features you get a commentary with Director/Writer Gerard Johnstone, Producer Luke Sharp and Executive Producer Ant Timpson. The commentary is beyond informative and actually really funny. Some random things I gleaned: This is Johnstone’s first movie; it took four years to get it done; Johnstone seems to be obsessed with everyone’s hair. He points out that at various occasions certain actors are wearing wigs. I personally wouldn’t have picked up on this had it not been mentioned; the slap in the face Kylie gets from Amos was real, real hard and unexpected, and the tears she sheds seconds later are real too; Edgar’s “Beetlejuice appearance” was not what he wanted but they didn’t have the money to make him look as creepy as he should have been (I instantly picked up on the unintentional Beetlejuice vibe at first glance too); the commentary was recorded in August of this year.
Other features you get are four Deleted Scenes (3:59), I can see why they were cut out, and the movie’s trailer. I believe the DVD counterpart ports over these exact special features (including commentary) as well.
Seek this one out, people; it’s a keeper, and I’m looking forward to seeing what else Johnstone makes in the future.