Kylie Bucknell (Morgana O’Reilly) has just been convicted of trying to rob an ATM. Her sentence is eight months of house arrest with her mother Miriam (Rima Te Wiata) in the house she grew up in. It is a sprawling old home out in the country with no internet, bad TV reception, and quite possibly a ghost. Kylie isn’t in the house very long before she learns that her mother honestly believes that the house is haunted. She’s dismissive at first until a terrifying encounter in the basement makes her a believer. Now she must endeavor to find the spirit and determine what it wants.
First time feature writer/director Gerard Johnstone knocks this nifty little haunted house tale right out of the park. It’s not a gory slasher, going more for jump scares, and there’s quite a few clever, funny moments thrown in. Johnstone shows great talent, placing laughs and screams in just the right amounts. Housebound’s story is a layered mystery that the richly drawn characters must unravel. Rima is especially good as Miriam, Kylie’s loving if superstitious mom; she plays the part with an honest mom wholesomeness and obliviousness.
I caught an encore midnight showing and the audience ate the film up. There are numerous twists and turns that keep you guessing, but always with a wink to the audience. I love that the film doesn’t take itself too seriously; being a legitimate horror film while fitting in some clever laughs and entertain. Housebound is never dull and definitely worth the price of admission.
Adam Ruhl is a writer and life long Cinephile. He is the Executive
Cinema Editor of Pop Culture Beast’s Austin branch; covering festivals,
conventions, and new releases. When not filing reports, Adam can be
found stalking Alamo Drafthouse Programmers for leads on upcoming
DrafthouseFilms titles. Adam once blocked Harry Knowles entrance to a
theater until he was given extra tickets to a Roman Polanski movie.