There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.
When Kylie (Morgana O'Reilly) tries to rob an ATM, she nearly gets away, but her car gets stuck and she gets arrested. As a result, she is sentenced to eight months of house arrest, and she will be spending those eight months in her mother's (Rima Te Wiata) home, with whom she does not get along. Kylie is an angry young woman and is immediately irritated with having to stay with her mother for so long. While her mother is happy and kind, Kylie wants nothing to do with her. Thus, she watches TV all day with the volume loud, does not clean after herself, and really just makes a point of being a bad roomate.
Kylie is trying to make her mother's life miserable, but she is completely unaware of the strange things have been occurring in the house. Her mother thinks that the house is haunted, while Kylie is more skeptical. However, when Kylie starts witnessing some of these strange occurrences, she begins to doubt herself. Is her mother right or should Kylie maintain her skepticism? To find out, she must solve the mystery of what is going on in her mother's house, and she must do so while trying to maintain her sanity.
The Pros & Cons
|The Pros||The Cons|
The Setup (-3pts)
The Security (-3pts)
The Ending (-4pts)
Pro: Horror-Comedy (+8pts)
One of the best parts of this movie was the perfect blend between horror and comedy. The film had some intense horror while maintaining a regular pace of humor. The filmmakers did this very effectively by keeping the tone similar to that of a horror, but the characters were what provided the comedy. Kylie's mother, for instance, was a very silly and gullible character, who happened to be in a horror story scenario. For example, when all the lights cut out suddenly, the mother said something like "oh, they keep doing this" and she seemed to think it was an electrical issue, when it very obviously was not. Then there was Kylie, whose personality provided a lot of comedic moments, due to her amusing reactions to the horrific things that were happening around her. It was definitely a horror movie, but the humor in it was surprising, and the balance gave this movie some unique flavor.
Con: The Setup (-3pts)
I realize that this was kind of a silly movie, which made it play into the movie's humor, but I thought the setup to the film was a bit weak. I really liked the concept of Kylie hating her mother, and her being placed on house arrest at her mothers house, which was haunted. I thought that was a really unique and fun premise, but I thought the way the filmmakers executed that premise was weak. More specifically, I thought it was ridiculous because Kylie's sentence seemed very light compared to the crime she had been arrested for.
Kylie was with a guy (who I assumed to be her boyfriend, but we never saw or heard from him again), and the two are trying to rob an ATM. The guy got knocked unconscious, but Kylie decided to take the money and go. She nearly got away, but her car got stuck as the police arrive. I thought it was ridiculous that her car got stuck, but I thought it was more ridiculous for her sentence to be eight months house of arrest at her mother's house. Maybe other viewers will have a different opinion, but I did not think the sentence matched the crime (given her history). It seemed, to me, like the filmmakers used judge's leniency as a plot device, because they were not able to come up with a more realistic setup.
Pro: Mystery (+4pts)
While I really enjoyed the combination between horror and comedy, there was a third genre to this film: mystery. As Kylie began to witness strange and horrific things at her mother's house, she decided to investigate. The story then led to her exploring hidden areas of the house, spying on the neighbor, and more. It really started to turn into a mystery, and I thought it was an effective one.
The balance between horror and comedy was great, but I was pleasantly surprised with how well the filmmakers got me interested in the mystery that Kylie was trying to solve. I think the filmmakers did this so well, because they started with one genre, then as soon as that genre began to feel familiar, the filmmakers added another genre into the mix. Then, once that mix felt familiar, the filmmakers added yet another genre. In other words, the movie started as a comedy, turned into a horror-comedy, then turned into a horror-comedy-mystery. In the last twenty minutes or so, the film takes another turn—which I will get into later— but I thought the filmmakers (for the most part) did a fantastic job of balancing this movie's genres, and I thought they nailed a very unique tone in the process.
Con: The Security (-3pts)
Okay, some may see this point as me being overly critical, but just bear with me while I explain. Glen-Paul Waru played Amos, a security agent who is assigned to respond to any issues with Kylie's ankle monitor. Now I really enjoyed the character of Amos. He added plenty of comedy to the movie and he was a pretty relatable character (while the main character was angry all the time). Anyway, there was a point in the movie where Kylie mentioned the house being haunted. Without batting an eye, Amos whipped out his audio recorder and started asking questions.
His questions were aimed at the entity that Kylie claimed was within the house, and again, he did this without hesitation. He then started checking areas of the house using a detector (which I presume to be some sort of EMF). Not only was this guy a security agent who should be handling Kylie's ankle monitor, he is also a paranormal expert, which was really convenient. My problem was that, even if you assume this character believed in ghosts at all, it was weird that he was so quick to believe that this house was haunted. Maybe the film did this as intended comedy, and hopefully that comedy will work for some viewers, but it did not work for me. It just felt too convenient, and I saw it as a plot device to embed this entertaining character deeper into Kylie's story. I enjoyed seeing more of Amos, but I thought his transition (from a secondary character to a main character) could have used some work.
Pro: Kylie (+10pts)
I thought Kylie was a refreshingly unique main character for a horror story. How many horror films have a generic female lead, running, and screaming from anything that goes bump in the night? The filmmakers flipped that stereotype on its head with Kylie. Kylie was angry, she was selfish, and she was violent. If something startled her, her first instinct was to punch it in the face. If an inanimate object started moving, her instinct was to attack it and throw it into the fireplace. What was so unique about this movie was that the main character's unique personality was refreshing, but it also served as a sort of parody of common horror movie tropes.
We have become used to horror movie's main characters running or screaming in response to anything scary. Naturally, when something startled Kylie in this film, we expect her to run or scream. Instead we saw her get violent and start beating or attacking anything that startled her. As a viewer, this was surprisingly funny to watch because it is so drastically outside of my expectations. As great as the film's genre was, I think Kylie (and the performance by Morgana O'Reilly) was this film's biggest draw. Morgana O'Reilly was able to act violent, while maintaining facial expressions of shock, fear, confusion, and frustration. It made the character simultaneously cool, and relatable, and I think it was Morgana O'Reilly's performance that allowed the movie's genres to blend so perfectly.
Con: The Ending (-4pts)
Like I have mentioned a few times already, one of this film's biggest strengths was its genre. The filmmakers did a great job at balancing horror, comedy, and mystery throughout the duration of the film, but they struggled at sticking the landing with a conclusion that would satisfy all genres. There was comedy, but when the mystery was concluded, the film turned into more of a thriller (instead of a horror). It was entertaining, but it felt like the movie lost quite a bit of momentum when this happened. I do not want to say too much more, because I do not want to give the ending away. Just know that there was a switch at the end which changed the tone and the direction of the film. This may work for some audiences, but I thought the movie lost what made it so great during everything that led up to it.
Grade: B+ (87pts)
Housebound was a surprisingly entertaining movie. It was a horror-comedy-mystery and the filmmakers did a fantastic job of blending these three genres. The horror came from an unknown entity terrorizing the main character, Kylie. The mystery came from Kylie and Amos trying to determine what the entity was and how it came to be. The comedy came from a few characters, but a lot of it came from Kylie and her reactions to the horror. This character was angry, violent, and she was fun to watch, as she would attack almost anything that startled her or creeped her out. This made the movie feel very fresh, because we have become so accustomed to main characters (in horror movies) running or screaming at horrific elements.
The movie had a few issues, a few of which were lazy plot devices, but the biggest issue was the ending of the story. The end of the story, while still pretty entertaining, struggled to reach a conclusion that satisfied each genre. Again, I still enjoyed the ending to an extent, but it still felt like a disappointment. This was an entertaining movie and I encourage viewers to watch it. The filmmakers did a fantastic job at balancing genres throughout most of the movie, and it had an unconventional main character who was a lot of fun to watch.