Horror has a love/hate relationship with convention. Every few years, an ambitious film crew will release a film that defies our expectations, challenges us as fans, and moves the genre forward. Peeping Tom was significant because it was the first film to use POV shots from the antagonist. At the time, that particular use of a camera was ground-breaking. So much so that future films would imitate the style, especially within the slasher genre. However, the more that horror films use a certain camera angle, musical score, or plot element, the more acclimated the audience becomes to it. And this is where, depending on your perspective as a fan, convention can be rewarding or disappointing. Some people are diehard fans of a particular genre. They know exactly what they want and exactly which films to watch to get it. Others are bored with the same duplicated tropes and themes. They want something fresh and new. I propose that the genre needs to do both of these to remain intact. For those who don’t know, I also contribute to nocleansinging.com, a heavy metal blog. You see the same dichotomy in metal music. You have bands that have a tried and true style that hasn’t changed all that much over their careers. Every time they release an album, their devoted fan base are pleased. Others write them off and say that they are stale and afraid to experiment. Whether you’re a dyed-in-the-wool follower of a certain type of horror film, or an adventurous soul always looking for the cutting edge, I have found a film that will please you.
Housebound is a horror comedy from New Zealand. Kylie Bucknell (Morgana O’Reilly) is arrested after trying to break into an ATM. In lieu of incarceration, she is sentenced to 8 months of house arrest with her wiggy mother Miriam (Rima Te Wiata), a woman with one too many bats in her belfry. A series of phantasmic shenanigans leads Kylie to investigate a clandestine murder that happened in the house years ago.
I must emphasize the comedic aspects of this film equally with the horrific ones. Housebound is funny. I mean, really funny. The wit and snark in the dialogue was one of the film’s real strengths. This kind of humor gives you characters that you feel like you know. They seem like actual human beings that you have met, or may even be related to. The nagging back-and-forth banter between Kylie and Miriam had me in ribbons. Also providing the role of comic relief is Amos (Glen-Paul Waru), a security officer who monitors Kylie’s ankle bracelet. Amos fancies himself an expert in the paranormal, and is more than once the butt of a joke when he attempts to engage to presence within the house. If sarcastic jabs are a must for you in a screenplay, this film has them aplenty.
At the beginning of this review, I mentioned horror’s relationship with convention. And that is where Housebound shines the most. You may think you have seen this story before, but you haven’t. Parts of it, perhaps. But you haven’t seen these conventions used this way. The film is part ghost story, part whodunit mystery, and part slasher flick all deep-fried in gallows humor. Tired of knives, axes, machetes, and chainsaws? Of course you’re not! This is horror, who would be tired of those? But Housebound succeeds in defying convention even in its weapon choices. Fans should expect to see the following used as weapons in the film: a plastic basket, a cheese grater, a drum set, a roofing tile, and a phone cord. Also expect several terrifying (and hilarious) encounters with an ominous musical teddy bear. Gorehounds and special effects enthusiasts should be able to rejoice, as Housebound also features one of the very best head explosions I have seen in recent memory.
I recommend Housebound for those who want well-preserved and time-honored horror traditions, and for those who are looking for something unusual.
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Latest posts by Grant Skelton (see all)
- HOUSEBOUND (2014): Review…Unconventional Convention - March 16, 2015
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- ZOSMOPOLITAN PART III: The End As We Know It - January 15, 2015