Kyle Buckneil is a young, troubled lady who has been in and out of prison and rehabilitation programs without much success. After a failed attempt to blow up an ATM, and poor driving skills, it’s right back to the courtroom where she is sentenced to spend eight months of “house arrest” in her childhood home: an old victorian house in the country. With a bracelet around her ankle she can only stay within the property during those eight months, with her mother and stepfather, whom she does not have the best relationship with.
The days go by with lots of smoking and slacking around on the couch, but one day she hears on an evening program on the radio that her mother has called in, claiming that the house is haunted…and especially down in the basement, a place that apparently opens up a lot of repressed memories from Kyle’s childhood. Things are beginning to happen gradually, like weird sounds in the walls and a mysterious ringtone that can be heard at night, leading down to – take a guess – the basement, where she gets an unpleasant experience. And of course, she can’t escape since she’s literally forced to stay there.
In other words: it builds up to something that may seem like a conventional ghost movie where things go from bad to worse. Our prison bird will be attacked one night by a Poltergeist-style teddy bear, knocking it off and throwing it in the fireplace..only for the teddy bear to come back during a showering scene, freaking her out even more. Eventually she gets enough of all the weird happenings, and would rather spend time in prison than in a haunted house. But of course, she can only forget about that.
The first 40 minutes of the film is undoubtedly the best. And with both the title, the alternative cover and an old Victorian house, one expects a claustrophobic chamber drama where God knows what might happen. But I’m not spoiling anything by saying that Housebound isn’t what I expected it to be at all. It’s also listed as a comedy, but I think the comedy aspects is more unintentionally funny and doesn’t blend very well with the tone and atmosphere it builds up in the first act. It’s overall an entertaining movie, but do not let the title and cover fool you.
Director: Gerard Johnstone
Country & year: New Zealand, 2014
Actors: Morgana O’Reilly, Rima Te Wiata, Glen-Paul Waru, Ross Harper, Cameron Rhodes, Ryan Lampp, Mick Innes, Bruce Hopkins, Millen Baird, Wallace Chapman, David Van Horn