2014 / Director. Gerard Johnstone.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
Whenever a horror film emerges from New Zealand there is a knee-jerk instinct by most critics to draw comparisons to Peter Jackson. I think that's lazy. Just as Peter Jackson exploited New Zealand's unique sense of humour, so too do others. HOUSEBOUND is not so much "like" a Peter Jackson movie but rather a wonderfully "New Zealand" film that oozes with charm and delivers a clever, scary and hilarious narrative. A young woman with a reckless and rebellious history is sentenced to home detention at her parents house after she was caught breaking into an ATM. With a parameter anklet attached she is well and truly housebound and suffering from an incurable boredom. She does not get along with her bubbly and exuberant mother and her step father barely talks at all. When strange things start happening around her, the girl soon discovers that the house is haunted and that her mother has known all along. With the help of a supernatural-enthusiast security officer she begins to uncover the house's horrific history and secrets are revealed. Director Gerard Johnstone has crafted something special here. He has tapped into that distinct New Zealand sense of humour and the film's charm lies in it's attention to nuances. From everyday idioms to familiar character traits, the film relies on the audience's sense of nostalgia and whimsicality. There are stacks of deliciously effective boos & bumps and the washed-out sepia colour-grading of the film lends it a classic 'haunted house' aesthetic. The performances are good and the balance of comedy & horror is perfect. We are finally starting to see more horror films that rely on their smarts, rather depending on gratuitous violence and HOUSEBOUND is destined to become a cult favourite in years to come.