(dir. Gerard Johnstone)
*First time viewing
A young woman under house arrest at her parents’ house encounters what may be paranormal activity…or something far more surprising.
Housebound truly is something special, but it wasn’t until about halfway through that I realized how special it is, because this was never a movie about a haunted house. For the first half hour or so, I thought I knew how this story would play out, and the film had to fight for my attention. But as the film went on and I grew to know and like the characters I found myself growing increasingly invested, and by the time the first reveal hit I was pretty sure that this movie had won my heart. This reveal is the same as two other recent horror movies, but it’s such a cool one that it couldn’t hamper my enjoyment. My surprise increased once that reveal was unveiled as the first of many, each one stemming from character rather than shock value. Call Housebound a modern House on Haunted Hill if you will. To go much further into the plot construction would ruin the movie, but I will say that Housebound manages to pull off every single one of its reveals in ways that are funny, frightening, and sensible to this world we’re introduced to.
I want to take a moment to talk about the lead, Morgana O’Reilly. A good chunk of Housebound thrives simply on her facial expressions alone. Her comedic timing is on point. What could have easily been a grating character, given Kylie’s plethora of attitude problems and bad behavior, becomes a complex figure whose mistake filled arc only makes her more endearing in O’Reilly’s hands. Kylie is prickly to be sure, but we’re also given the chance to see beneath her exterior and find someone far more vulnerable. Vulnerability is really what Housebound is all about. A vulnerable woman in a vulnerable house with vulnerable parents, all beset by vulnerable “others.” The scariest thing in Housebound isn’t the presence of these “others” but the way in which they act as a catalyst for these characters to be stripped down to the rawest of nerve endings so that they may truly see each other for the first time. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a little misty-eyed.
Scare Factor: 1/5 Housebound steps away from the Raimi-inspired over-the-top aspects that so many horror comedies now utilize. More important is the rare factor that Housebound is a film that cares deeply about its characters, and makes their lives matter instead of fodder. I’m all for unending pits of the human spirit, but sometimes it’s nice to encounter a horror movie that actually makes you feel good.
**Available to watch on Netflix Instant