After last year’s hilarious vampire mockumentary, What We Do In The Shadows, it seems New Zealand is on an indie horror roll. The country’s latest horror satire, Housebound, offers a twist on the typical haunted-house genre fusing all the tension of a thriller with the laughs of absurd comedy.
Caught red handed busting open a cash machine with a stick of dynamite, bad tempered teen Kylie (Morgana O’Reilly) is placed under house arrest. Forced to return to her childhood home, the care of a blabbering mother (Rima Te Waita) and a put-upon step dad, Kylie’s anti-social tendencies intensify. But Kylie isn’t the only one on house arrest. A trapped spirit sparks the film’s genre-bending chain reaction taking us from ghost story to murder mystery and ingenious action showdown.
Fortunately for Kylie, her probation officer Amos (Glen-Paul Waru) turns out to be a self-taught paranormal expert keen to flex his ghost-busting detective skills. It’s just one of the far-fetched coincidences Housebound delivers with unflinching confidence.
“All the tension of a thriller with the laughs of absurd comedy”
First time writer-director Gerard Johnstone employs horror’s typical devices for laughs rather than scares but much of the comedy comes from mundane domestic conflicts delivered with natural ease by O’Reilly and Te Waita. Creepy teddy bears and imaginative weapons provide the biggest shocks while absurd clues from a statue of Jesus to a dental plate give Housebound a bizarre but irresistible edge. A spatter of wincing comedy gore rounds off this accomplished debut.
VERDICT: ★ ★ ★ ★ 4/5
Running time: 107 minutes
UK release date: 3 July 2015