Another new favorite from my annual, personal, Horror-thon….
What if you tried to pull off a petty crime and got caught because something went stupidly, hilariously wrong, and then you were put on house-arrest at your mum’s house in the country. And you hate your mum. And your stepdad is dim. You left home years ago, but now you’re sporting a court ordered ankle bracelet, so you can’t go more than 20 feet from said house — “Gosh, that’s high-tech, isn’t it? Aren’t you lucky, Kylie? Having all that fancy technology on your foot. Quite spoilt,” your mum gushes as the technician clamps it on. House arrest, at your parents’ house — already the stuff of nightmares, right?
And then what if said house is also haunted?
This is the heartwarming premise of Housebound (2014) written, directed, and edited by Gerard Johnstone. Equal parts horror and off-beat comedy, this film is quirky in a peculiarly New Zealand way, although New Line has optioned it and will surely remove all quirk and fun for the remake.
Is the family home actually haunted? Or is Kylie, our protagonist, mentally ill? Is there a mystery in the past to be unraveled? Lucky for Kylie, the technician responsible for her ankle restraint, Amos, is on her side and an amateur ghost hunter to boot.
Is there a haunted basement? Check.
A terrifying Teddy bear? Heck yeah!!
Is that a 2.35:1 aspect ratio? Yep! I’m not the only film geek who loves that wide wide screen!
There’s also a shower… a cheese grater… and a meat fork….
Cinematographer Simon Riera’s sepia-golden lighting gives the house an antique and warm vibe, while the exteriors are cold blues and greens. Because it turns out, this actually is a movie about house, home and family — no matter how quirky — being where the heart is.
FlicksTalks interview with Gerard Johnstone on horror, comedy, New Zealand, film school, and The Biz. Very smart guy. — My gawd it took him three years to complete Housebound!!
It’s streaming on Netflix. Check it out before us Americans re-make and ruin it. (“New Line to Remake New Zealand Horror-Comedy ‘Housebound'” HR)