In its crazy-quilt plot, Housebound features a vicious killer, a gaggle of ghosts, and all manner of madcap fools, qualities that make the movie hard to categorize — horror-comedy? mystery-thriller? — but lots of fun to watch.
For her failed attempt to rob an ATM, Kylie (Morgana O’Reilly) receives a truly terrifying sentence: eight months of home detention at her mother’s New Zealand country house, which appears to be haunted. Aided by a local security guard (Glen-Paul Waru) who happens to be an amateur parapsychologist, Kylie begins trying to solve the mystery of who murdered the home’s ghostly inhabitants 20 years before.
Housebound is a tad long, and its murder mystery a bit of a muddle, but that doesn’t matter. The final third is virtuoso. In an amazingly assured debut, writer-director-editor Gerard Johnstone mixes moments of high comedy (blocking a knife thrust with a toy xylophone) with gruesome little shocks (the accident with the lawn shears), and ends with a chase sequence that’s both goofy (a cheese grater as weapon) and suspenseful.
If Steven Spielberg or James Wan (The Conjuring) see Housebound, they’re going to laugh, applaud, and immediately invite Johnstone to fly over and take a meeting.