Housebound ★★★½

A horror comedy that mostly forgets its comic side, Gerald Johnstone's "Housebound" works mainly because of its ability to chill early on and its ever-so-slightly bizarre texture that sets in near the film'c climax. With effective jolts, strange reveals, and a refreshingly offbeat vibe, the Kiwi thriller makes for a solid and appealing viewing experience.

Built around a young woman who is sentenced to house arrest after some minor criminal misdeeds, "Housebound" follows as the woman encounters some strange goings-on during her incarceration. Mystery, things-that-go-bump-in-the-night, and long-kept secrets combine for a horror narrative that is more effective when it avoids its daffy side. Its light-toned moments may bring about some smiles, but they only distract from the film's solid sense of foreboding.

The production has a layered, lived-in look that is subtly impressive. The cast is strong, and the film's scares are well-placed. Those scares give way to the film's core mystery around the production's mid-section, and, though it is easy to lament the loss of what could have been impressive, all-out horror, the mystery and how it unfolds allows the film the develop a unique and cheekily strange energy.

"Housebound" is an odd horror film. Its chills are solid but in limited supply, and it may be difficult to reconcile the film's lighter moments with the thriller's overall tone. This mix of tones and narrative beats makes the experience memorable, however, creating a happily unhinged piece of work.

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