Housebound (2014)

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Directed by: Gerard Johnstone

When I was younger ‘Neighbours’ was my soap opera of choice. Mainly because it coincided with my arrival home from school, winding down after double Maths and Food Technology with a cuppa and a few party rings. Aside from Kylie and Jason few actresses and actors had successfully escaped Erinsborough until probably the last five years. You had the ‘lifers’ like Lou Carpenter and Karl & Susan who would serve decades in soap land purgatory; and characters like Paul Robinson and Harold Bishop, who would escape Ramsey Street or even get killed off and yet somehow find a way to return.

When an actor or actress moved on to pastures from ‘Neighbours’ new they either found themselves as average at best pop stars and one hit wonders (Delta Goodrem or Natalie Imbruglia) or they moved on to appearing on second tier UK soaps like ‘Emmerdale’ (Anne Charleston aka Madge Bishop) or Sky One’s ridiculous Football Soap / Drama ‘Dream Team’ (Stefan Dennis aka Paul Robinson).

In recent year’s Australian soap stars, and arguably Australian actors in general, have blossomed in Hollywood, Margot Robbie is the most obvious example, here is an actress who has from drinking milkshake at Lassiters to sipping cocktails with DiCaprio. Perhaps more acting talent will follow Robbie over to the States; on the evidence of ‘Housebound’ perhaps the next actress from ‘Neighbours’ to make it to the big screen might well be Morgana O’Reilly.

‘Housebound’ is a darkly comic New Zealand based horror. O’Reilly plays Kylie, a troublesome twenty-something, who after an attempted raid on a cash machine is hit hard by the sledgehammer of New Zealand law and justice. Kate is fitted with an electronic tag and placed under house arrest. She is forced to live back home with her motor mouthed Mother Miriam (Rima Te Wiata), and Miriam’s long suffering partner.

The family home carries some dark secrets within its walls. At night Kylie hears noises and after overhearing her Mother call in to a talk radio station she is reminded that the house is haunted. The director gives us few clues as to what lurks within the house, but at first it seems like a malevolent spirit lurks in the residence. The clever build to the big reveal is innovatively presented and keeps us guessing.

In essence, the story in ‘Housebound’ is held together by Kylie and Miriam’s fractured Mother daughter relationship. Kylie lazes around the house drinking beer and eating all the food. Miriam’s patience is tested to the point when she is unable to sit down and watch her beloved ‘Coronation Street’. There are numerous exchanges between Kylie and Miriam which are adorably hilarious, and the tension carries that deep down they both care about each other, only they’re equally afraid to say it. Kylie regresses to sulky teen mode, and Miriam tries to avoid biting her tongue in half. In the end they fight for their lives and come together at the right time, as Kylie needs someone who believes that she is telling the truth, and that person turns out to be her Mother.

Though perhaps a tad overlong (not fitting in with my own personal criteria that a horror should never go beyond a ninety minute running time) ‘Housebound’ is an original story which provides enough twists, turns and near misses to keep us hooked for a surprisingly gory finale. This is certainly a horror film worth checking out.

– RJW

7/10

Housebound on IMDB

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