I have to just come right out and say it: Housebound was a fun ride, reminiscent of earlier Peter Jackson. This movie reminded me in not only tone, but in overall execution, of Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners. It is coincidental for me that I made that comparison as I was watching, only to research and find out that the film is also from New Zealand. But I will say that over there is a keen sense of humor and macabre sensibilities that I highly dig.
This was another combination of Reddit Recommendation and personal recommendation. The cover art on Netflix did not exactly entice me, and the summary also did little to lure me in to watch. But I added it to my list of movies to watch and write about for this month. And I’m really glad that I did. My enjoyment of this movie comes primarily from the interactions of the family involved, the delinquent daughter, the doting and snooping mom, and the silent and agreeable stepdad. The daughter is more than emo, she’s just pissed at the world, primarily because her father left the family and became wealthy and started a new family. She has fond memories of her childhood, but at that moment, she seemed to shut down to the world. And at first, it seemed as if the problems somehow created the new problems experienced once she was sentenced to house arrest after trying to steal an ATM. Her minor crime and her overall shitty attitude seemed to have created a series of disturbances within the house. Typical creepy house type stuff, things going bump in the daytime and night time.
And what is also fun about this movie is that it goes from a basic haunted house movie to a whodunnit movie. There is an interesting history to the house, of course, and it’s not a typical resolution to the house’s past and the situations it creates. It also introduces some quirky characters who at first just seem as passing characters, created to introduce plot elements and then it seemed that they would just leave. But no, thankfully they come back around and really enrich the narrative in ways that feed the narrative’s creativity and fun. The best addition is the security officer tasked with monitoring the home, and his love for paranormal investigation. His investigation leads to the shift from haunted house to murder mystery. And another trope that this movie uses to great effect is the “misunderstood hermit” who in this movie is believed to have murdered someone in his family. He’s the guy neighborhood kids make up stories about, trying to scare each other and eventually daring each other to go and harass by trespassing onto hermit’s property.
I don’t want to go too far into the summary of the movie, but I will say that there is a nice vibe that blends the fun and macabre very well. The movie has some genuinely tense moments, some unnerving moments, and a balance of moments of levity and genuine emotion. While not a straight up horror, there are some gory moments, although not over the top. But more importantly the relationships and the stakes set through the relationships are believable and fun to experience. Give Housebound a try if you’re looking for something to watch on Halloween. Never mind the bumps in the walls though.