Saturday 4 July 2015

"Housebound" (Guardian 03/07/15)

Housebound ***

Dir: Gerard Johnstone. With: Morgana O’Reilly, Rima Te Wiata, Glen-Paul Waru, Ross Harper. 107 mins. Cert: 18
This low-budget Kiwi offering is a rare thing: a horror-comedy with a premise that works both ways. After dynamiting a cashpoint, scowling Kylie (Morgana O’Reilly) is placed under house arrest in the home of her micromanaging mother Miriam (Rima Te Wiata); the twist is that this house is – as mum puts it – “prone to certain disturbances”. While we’re waiting for the cause to reveal itself, writer-director-editor Gerard Johnstone gains comic mileage from Kylie’s sullen interactions with those around her, and burrows inventively around his initial, Disturbia­­-like set-up: a ghost story is thus converted into first a hider-in-the-house thriller, then a satisfying murder-mystery. Peter Jackson aficionados may be reminded of the overbearing matriarch of 1992’s Braindead, although Te Wiata finally makes Miriam’s incessant waffling-on heroic, and the tactics are closer to Jackson’s underrated, crafty The Frighteners, developing its characters even as it’s creeping up on them – and us. Johnstone is one to watch.

Housebound is now playing in selected cinemas, ahead of its DVD release on July 20.

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