Given my viewing habits range from Too Cute! Kittens to the The Jeffrey Dahmer Files it is always surprising to me when Netflix makes an accurate recommendation. For months now Netflix has been suggesting the horror-comedy Housebound. I must admit the artwork for this film stands out in the lineup as it depicts the penultimate “awkward family portrait” featuring a disturbed looking olive drab family with one person shrouded in a tattered sheet. It really leaves you asking yourself “WTF?”. The horror-comedy movie genre can vary pretty dramatically, so I wasn't sure if this movie would be more like Scary Movie 2 or Cabin the Woods so I went into this planning to turn the movie off if things got stupid-silly.
The movie begins with an introduction to Kylie, the chain smoking, foul mouthed protagonist of this story, as she attempts to rob an ATM but is foiled by her sidekick’s sloppy sledgehammer work. In an odd turn of events she finds herself sentenced to house arrest in her childhood home. Admittedly it was hard to sense the tone of this movie at first, the acting is slightly reminiscent of an Edgar Wright movie, a la Hot Fuzz, but the musical cues and camera work are strictly horror movie standard. That being said, by time Kylie rolls up to her creepy childhood home and is rear-ended by her cooky mother in the driveway, I was fully immersed in the slightly off-center world of Housebound. After a ghostly encounter in the basement and several odd occurrences around the home Kylie begins to believe that the house is haunted and begins a smash and grab style paranormal investigation with the assistance of her dorky parole officer, Amos. Through a series of misguided investigative attempts and some plot twists and turns we learn the strange truth of the mysterious happenings in Kylie’s life.
After doing a little digging on Wikipedia I discovered that Housebound is a cinematic debut for New Zealander, Gerard Johnstone, who wrote, directed and edited the movie himself. It is abundantly clear is that Johnstone is a true horror movie fan, and he has a unique perspective that can only be the result of his loving study of cinema in general. To me, Housebound plays as an homage to one of my favorite young Tom Hanks movies, The Burbs, with a bit of Hitchcock sprinkled in for good measure. Like Netflix, I highly recommend this movie if you also like Babe: Pig in the City and Ed Gein: The Real Leatherface or if you are just looking to watch a good movie and have a little spooky fun.
Image Credits: IMDB