Housebound

Housebound ★★★★

Man, down under gets horror, don't they?

To be honest, I'm not sure how Housebound got on my Letterboxd watch list, but it did, and when it popped up on Netflix I decided to check it out. After a string of home viewing duds I was really hoping this one would break the chain.

Within five minutes I knew it would.

The film tells the story of Kylie, who after a series of run ins with the law is forced to return to her mothers home and live under house arrest. To say Kylie and her mum don't get along would be an understatement, but things start to take a turn for the worse as it becomes clear that there may be someone, or something, else living in the house with them.

The debut feature of writer/director Gerard Johnstone, Housebound is ostensibly a modern haunted house film, but one that takes the genre and turns it slightly on its head. And one of the ways in which it does so best is through comedy. I strongly feel that many of the best horror films embrace comedy as a way to lighten the tension, only to ramp it up again, and Housebound does so in spades. True, it's perhaps more tipped towards the horror genre than say Shaun of the Dead which tips more towards comedy, but the film more than passed the "six laugh test", while at the same time genuinely had me scared at times (the good kind of scare, where you feel uneasy and feel the need to turn all the lights on in your house). Don't worry there's plenty of jump scares in there too, along with moments where you will be shouting at the characters on screen not to go there. It has all of those elements that make up a great horror movie, while at the same time being willing to play around with them and have some fun.

And ultimately that's what I loved most about the film, the sense of fun and playfulness that it had. I mean, yes, it scared me, but it also never took itself too seriously. And it held my attention all the way through, which pretty much never happens at home any more, so that says a lot about it.

It also was nice to see a strong female lead for a change. Kylie isn't your typical horror heroine; she doesn't run around in the nude, or make silly rash decisions. She's hot headed, yes, but she's also tough as nails. She, along with the rest of the characters, feel real. She isn't a cliché, but a fully formed, fully fleshed out character, who is brilliantly played by Morgana O'Reilly, who has a great career ahead of her.

The film is also incredibly well paced. Within the first five minutes the setup has been established; something that most films today would waste at least 20 minutes on. All along the way the film keeps moving, having more or less setup the entire conceit within the first 15-20 minutes (though, of course, there's plenty of twists along the way). True, horror movies tend to be a bit more briskly paced than a drama, but it seems like everything these days feels the need to be two and a half hours long (including comedies), so it's always nice to see something come under that two hour mark.

Housebound is one of those little hidden gems that you sometimes find on Netflix. If you enjoy horror, and enjoy a good chuckle, I couldn't recommend this one highly enough.

Sidebar: apparently a US remake is on the way, to which I once again must ask "Why the fuck!?". I mean, in this case the original is pretty much perfect, with very little you could do to improve it. But moreover, the films in bloody english, so it's not like subtitles will be getting in the way of Americans enjoying it. Sure, there's accents, but they're still very easy to understand (unlike, say, Kill List and its mumbly cast). It's just silly! Release this one! THERE'S NO REASON TO REMAKE IT!