FrightFest Film Review: Housebound (Gerard Johnstone, 2014) ★★★★

Housebound film
Housebound is a New Zealand born, horror-comedy with a twist. Kylie Bucknell (Morgana O'Reilly) is forced to return to her childhood home when the court places her under eight months home detention. Her punishment is made all the more unbearable by the fact she has to live with her crackpot mother - Miriam (Rima Te Wiata), a well-intentioned blabbermouth who's convinced that the house is haunted. Having dismissed Miriam's superstitions, Kylie fills her time watching trash television and eating junk food but It's not before long that she becomes privy to disturbances in the house and begins to wonder if the house is possessed by a hostile spirit who is not so pleased with her new living arrangement.

To the open minded or unprepared going in to this feature, the opening credits lure you in to what appears to be a spin-chilling ghost story but instead what we experience is a hilarious horror-comedy that hits the nail right on the head. Now, it may seem bizarre to think that a horror can be both terrifying and witty but in this intense it is executed brilliantly by scripter-helmer and editor, Gerard Johnston, who presents scenes that are both successful in giving us goosebumps and the giggles. At first glance, I invisioned something simular to Black Sheep (Jonathan King, 2006),  a black comedy, about flesh-eating, killer sheep but what I got was something far more special that separates itself from others in it's genre category. 

Housebound FrightFest film
In a hilarious opening sequence, we are introduced to Kylie Bucknell (O'Reilly) as she tries to sledgehammer an ATM as an attempt at petty robbery that doesn't quite go to plan. A sarcastic, bitter twenty-something Kylie is spared prison and instead sentenced to live with her mother in her childhood home under house arrest with regular sessions with a psychologist, Dennis (Cameron Rhodes) in the hope of providing the stable environment she needs in order to turn her life around. With this lingering over Kylie's head, she embarks on entering the creepy-looking house of her childhood and we see the broken down, dysfunctional relationship between mother and daughter as Kylie mocks and rolls her eyes at her mother's every move.

Housebound film review
It is not before long that Kylie notices the bumps in the nights her mother as described and seeks help from Amos (Waru), her security parole officer with an obsession with the supernatural. Cleverly introduced as a dulled-down, bland character, Amos is later able to establish himself as the comic relief of the entire film  and an unlikely yet loveable partnership with Kylie thus again showing Johnstone as an excellent writer. Armed with old fashioned equipment, the narrative is shifted up a gear as the pair try to hunt down the hostile spirit that is terrorising the house only to find that the house was once an asylum for juvenile delinquents, one of which who was victim of a brutal unsolved murder. What follows is a hilarious, unexpected treat of a journey that leaves your heart beating from fear and laughter. 

Morgana O'Reilly in Housebound
With an ever-twisting, original screenplay, Housebound was by far the best production of the day. Both witty and hilarious, the film manages to be utterly spin-chilling at the same time and showing that the best horrors are often the funniest ones. Whilst it's sadly not likely to rock the big box offices as an independent kiwi film, it's certainly worthy of a watch and gets a Sophie star rating of 4 out of 5 stars. 


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