Housebound Blu-ray Review
Comedy-horror is a genre that is filled with mediocre entries that make the occasional gems that much better when you find them. HOUSEBOUND is one of these, a fun little independent film that is actually fairly engaging until several misfires during the third act really. This is a common problem with horror movies and thrillers in general, throwing in plot points and haphazard twists that just confuse things. HOUSEBOUND is a far from perfect film but it does stay within its limits and brilliantly builds the tension during the first two acts.
HOUSEBOUND revolves around a young woman named Kylie, who has gotten mixed up in drugs and arrested after trying to break into an ATM. To help her clean up she’s been ordered into house arrest with her mother, both a place and relationship she’s avoided since she became an adult. When she arrives at the house she acts like the child she was when she last was home, berated her mother and step-father and trying to make them as miserable as she feels. But when strange things start occurring she begins to believe her mother, who has always believed the house to be haunted, might actually be correct.
HOUSEBOUND is the type of slow burn build we see far too infrequently in recent horror films. Who, or what, is in the house with this misfit family is a question that is presented very slowly and with increasing tension that reminds me a lot of JAWS. Kylie and her family can’t really compete with the cast of JAWS so we’ll end the comparison there but it is important to note that HOUSEBOUND never really tries to be more than it is and fairs better for the deliberate care given to the story.
Made in New Zealand, HOUSEBOUND is a good example of what a filmmaker can do with a relatively small budget. Most of the movie takes place within the house and we can feel how cramped and congested Kylie is feeling as she literally cannot leave. HOUSEBOUND also makes good use of (somewhat dated) technology to enhance the story, specifically the old “Hello Moto” signature ringtone associated with some earlier Motorola phones. Everything within the house appears to be fair game for whatever inhabits it with them, including one particularly creepy scene featuring a Teddy Ruxpin-style teddy bear.
HOUSEBOUND doesn’t do anything particularly new but it does feel very different and tense because of the slow, methodical storytelling. The casting also works very well in the film despite, or maybe thanks to, not having a single marquee name. It is very nearly an exceptional film experience but for the last half hour of the movie as the plot lines become just a bit too contrived and twist follows twist follows twist and the filmmakers rely on the tropes of multiple genres and HOUSEBOUND becomes a little bit of an inconsistent mess. It doesn’t permanently ruin the entire experience but it does make this reviewer hesitant to cheer for the film. It’s definitely one for those thriller/horror fans who don’t need the massive amount of gore so common to horror films of the last 10 years (but who don’t mind it either). HOUSEBOUND isn’t going to change your life but it is still a fun way to spend an evening.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2.39:1) The video transfer of HOUSEBOUND is immersive and presents a great contrast of light and dark to help build the tension.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The audio for HOUSEBOUND is equally well done presenting a sometimes terrifying soundscape within the house.
Commentary with writer/director Gerard Johnstone, producer Luke Sharp and executive producer Ant Timpson (01:51:31) An interesting group if simply for the dynamics on display during the commentary. This is a really fun track as the group share a bottle of champagne (this commentary occurring after the film’s success at SXSW last year). There is a fair amount of information and Johnstone in particular offers some interesting insights (while Timpson nitpicks throughout).
Deleted Scenes (3:59) Three scenes are presented here, each preceded text to let us know why the scene was cut. Nothing great here but if you are a fan you should check them out. Scenes included are as follows: 2nd Dinner Table Scene; Peanut Butter; and Stairwell Argument.
HOUSEBOUND also features the Theatrical Trailer (01:36) for the film but no other special features can be found on the disc.