Written by: Ralph Wooster
Directed by: Gerard Johnstone
Cast: Morgana O’Reilly, Rima Te Wiata, Glen-Paul Waru
Horror lovers only get a handful of really good movies per year, a half dozen if we’re lucky, and a truly great one maybe only every five. It seems no other movie genre has anything like the hit/miss ratio of horror except perhaps sci-fi. We’re a starved lot. I mean, it seems like I have to swim through oceans of stage blood to find a decent flick, so when I do, I’m grateful.
I always get a rush when part way through, I realize I’m watching one of those good ones. A keeper. Something I can add to my collection and revisit every few years. The movie Housebound while not among the truly great (e.g. Alien, The Thing, The Shining, etc.), is definitely one I count among those five or six really good ones for 2014.
The plot isn’t original. That rather middling 2008 movie, 100 Feet staring Famke Janssen springs to mind. It’s the story of a woman confined via electronic ankle bracelet to house arrest in a house that’s not at rest. Same thing here, only Housebound does it better and will make you laugh while doing it.
In the opening scene, we get to see that the main character Kylie Bucknell (Morgana O’Reilly) is not your stereotypical “Oh no, I broke a nail” scream queen. She’s goth, she’s mad as hell, and she knows how to blow the shit out of an ATM machine.
Character interaction is really the backbone of this movie. Kylie, the permanently pissed, moves back in with her mom (Rima Te Wiata), who, though kind hearted and well meaning, is a little bit whacked. In fact, everyone but Kylie is somewhat off and half the fun is watching her react with those facial expressions to what they say and do. O’Reilly’s acting is superb and the supporting actors run a close second. Great performances by all.
The chills and jolts are delivered with a master’s hand and so too are the laughs. Deadpan. Perfect timing. Think Shaun of Dead and you’re close to home.
Now, add to that some gorgeous cinematography. I mean every frame is just faultless, not to mention the absolute top shelf editing throughout. Kudos to the director, Gerard Johnstone. As a director, he’s on my watch list. As a writer though, eh …not so much.
Johnstone wrote the screenplay and what’s missing in it are supporting characters that react like real people (the police, parole officer, neighbor, etc.). Without giving spoilers, I’ll just say that if a character doesn’t behave in a realistic manner to a given situation and/or the demands of his or her occupation, the reason why they don’t needs to be incorporated into the story. Of course as in all things, your mileage will vary, but for me, while these events were at times troubling, Housebound was just nailing it on so many levels that I had no choice but to overlook them. It’s wasn’t a hard sell. I found myself loving it in spite of its flaws and honestly, what movie doesn’t have a few?
Shaun of the Dead, Slither, Bubba Ho-Tep. It compares favorably. Just my opinion, not fact, but watch it and see if you don’t agree. Housebound is bound to be a cult classic.
Rating: 4.5 of 5