I often get strange looks when I proclaim that some of the best horror films are hilarious. Of course, those who are familiar with all things horror will know that this is entirely possible.

Not so bad its good, or funny because the storyline / dubbing / acting is so bad [enter Tulpa from Frightfest 2013…] but genuinely funny.

It’s a rarity –but Housebound directed by Gerard Johnstone hits the nail on the head.

Housebound is a fantastic mix of domestic boredom, haunted-house thriller, murder mystery and the possibility of mental breakdown. It starts out promising and definitely funny, and appears to lull in the middle – I spent some time thinking, where’s the scares? Am I just meant to be scared by how brooding this raven-haired tearaway is? She is quite rude to her mother I guess…

But ultimately, Housebound triumphs thanks to a fantastically funny and creepy unravelling of events. I’m glad I stuck with it. It definitely has a slow-burn effect but this, in the end, made the plot all the more satisfying.

Featuring a dynamite central performance by Morgana O’Reilly as an angry young troublemaker who gets more than she bargained for while serving a home detention order, this near-flawless mix of laughs and scares is one of the genre-related highlights of the year.

The plot is super smart – throwing curveballs and maintaining a confident and broody tone which is absolutely made by a deadpan performance from lead female protagonist, Morgana O’Reilly as wayward daughter, Kylie.  None of the fear factor or tension is compromised by the goofy humour and wonderfully droll and dry dialogue.

In a hilarious opening sequence, the dislodged head of a sledgehammer spectacularly curtails an ATM smash-and-grab robbery attempt by petty criminal Kylie Bucknell (O’Reilly) and an anonymous male accomplice. A snarling ball of teenage-like angst with a criminal record as long as her arm, twenty something Kylie is spared prison by a lenient judge who says home detention and regular sessions with a psychologist, Dennis (Cameron Rhodes), will provide the stable environment she needs to turn her wayward life around.

When Kylie arrives at the creepy-looking house of her childhood to begin an eight-month stretch it seems anything but stable – and is visibly Kylie’s idea of hell.

Home to her stepfather, Graeme (Ross Harper), an oddball who’s seen but rarely heard, and her mother, Miriam (Rima Te Wiata), an endearing chatterbox who believes the house is haunted. Kylie’s petulant behaviour and eye-rolling mockery of Miriam’s claim establishes a dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship that will eventually outgrow its comical roots and bring real heart to the story. The slow change starts when Kylie begins seeing things that make her believe “something” is indeed lurking in the basement and within the walls.

When things go awry, Kylie inadvertently gains a role in a detective duo with the guy who fits her security tag, Amos (Glen Paul-Waru). Amos is a security guy with a penchant for sniffing out the supernatural.

This Kiwi horror-comedy will no doubt be a favourite from the Fright fest line up. The scares are real, as are the laughs and both are served up in equal measures.

Plus, any film that can use kitchen utensils as deadly weapons and dentures as the main clue to a hidden secret, and still maintain fear factor, deserves a huge pat on the back.

 

VERDICT: [rating=4]

About The Author

Emily Stockham

Emily is from South London and has a degree in English Literature. Emily is a marketing assistant who writes about films and music in her spare time. Horror and grindhouse are her thing – although she will happily watch anything if it means a trip to the cinema.