Directed by: Gerard johnstone
Starring: Morgana O’Reilly, Rima Te Wiata, Glen-Paul Waru, Ross Harper
After an inept burglary of a cash-machine, petty criminal Kylie Bucknell is forced by the court to return to her family’s home under house arrest. The situation is made worse by the fact that she will be forced to live with her mother, Miriam, a non-stop blabbermouth who is convinced the house is haunted. At first Kylie is intent on making her mother and stepdad Graeme suffer her punishment as much as she has to, but soon enough she starts to become aware of strange noises and a “presence” in the house…
Housebound is one of those films which has been riding a huge wave of good word of mouth having done the film festival circuit last year, and is very much worthy of the hype.
The film starts as it means to go on, with a comical robbery-gone-wrong in which Kylie and her boyfriend attempt to rob an ATM. Rather than send her off to a rehab center – again – the judge sentencing her decides to put her under house arrest with her estranged family, instead.
The family home is almost a character in itself. It’s a pretty huge building with lots of rooms and crawlspaces throughout, which are used to create a real feeling of unease.The place is also stuffed full of clutter – most of which, we discover, belonged to the previous owners, and that Miriam just didn’t bother to throw out.
The plot of the film takes some interesting and very welcome turns. When Kylie is first spooked in the house, she finds an unlikely ally in Amos, the security guy assigned to ensure her ankle tracker is working and she’s keeping within the boundary of the house. It turns out that Amos is an amateur ghost hunter and isn’t the usual, skeptical authority figure you’d expect in this sort of film
The cast is brilliant for this sort of material. Hats must be taken off for Rima Te Wiata, whose affable, slightly clueless Miriam is the standout of the film. You can see why Kylie would have run away but at the same time there is a lot of sympathy for her mother. Especially when you see what she has to put up with. Similarly, Morgana O’Reilly is able to take a hostile, acerbic character like Kylie and turn her into someone you want to root for.
There are some bizarre leaps of logic and at least one plot hole (Kylie almost kills someone by mistake, and there don’t seem to be any repercussions whatsoever), but overall the script works really well, building a nice murder mystery alongside the question of whether the house is haunted. I for one didn’t see where the film was heading until the plot started to reveal itself
After months of hype, Housebound hits the UK and is definitely worthy of the praise its received. A great story, strong acting and a dark and funny script. Highly recommended.
9 out of 10 (MikeOutWest)