2014. Directed by Gerard Johnstone.
The horror-comedy genre if rife with many films that focus too much on one or the other and ultimately fail. Gerard Johnstone manages to balance both of these concepts masterfully and delivers a lightning in a bottle experience.
Kylie is a street smart youth who is sentenced to house arrest for various crimes. She's been on the run and is estranged from her mother and stepfather. Upon her return home, she begins to suspect that the house is haunted and, with the aid of her probation officer begins to unravel the mystery behinds the strange phenomena that are happening.
The film's strength is in the chemistry of the three leads. Morgana O'Reilly is great as the tough Kylie while Rima Te Wiata is flat out hilarious as her mother. Their verbal sparring and contempt is so real that it's ultimate evolution into teamwork and love is heartwarming. Glen-Paul Waru rounds out the trio as Kylie's lovable and refreshingly real probation officer.
Featuring some hilarious nods to the social work profession and some genuine, but ultimately playful scares, Housebound is a great offering of New Zealand cinema and demonstrates that with the right amount of care and respect, even horror can be a laugh inducing experience.
Johnstone's directorial debut shows a promising career in the making. His delicate handling of an intimate balance between violence and awkward familial relations is a welcomed addition to the genre. Sometimes a film is simply what it is, without apology or failed attempts at deepness and Housebound is one such film.