Movie: **** out of 5
Video: **** 1/2
Extras: *** 1/2
Article first published as Blu-ray Review: ‘Housebound’ on Blogcritics.
With horror-comedy, sometimes the kitchen sink method just works. If
you rely too heavily on one aspect over the other, it either stops being
scary and is even less funny. When it does work, it’s a fantastic
concoction. While most would hold the likes of Scream as the best of the bunch, they probably haven’t seen Peter Jackson’s early works: Dead Alive and Bad Taste. Most recently, we’ve been treated to the likes of Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, The Cabin in the Woods, and You’re Next. The one thing these films need to be is a wild ride, and writer/director Gerard Johnstone’s debut Housebound (now available on Blu-ray exclusively on Amazon.com from XLrator Media) finds just the right balance across the board.
Bucknell (Morgana O’Reilly) is having a bad night. While attempting to
rob an ATM, her cohort has knocked himself unconscious, and she winds up
high centering the getaway car. Sentenced to eight-months of house
arrest, Kylie is sent to live with her overbearing mum Miriam (Rima Te
Wiata) and step-father Graeme (Ross Harper). Straddled with an ankle
monitor, Kylie quickly learns that Miriam thinks her house is haunted
after overhearing her call in to a paranormal radio show. It’s not soon
after that Kylie begins to also hear bumps in the night, and she may
have more to fear than land lines and dial-up internet.
If there’s one thing holding back XLrator’s transfer, it’s their
continuing use of 25GB discs. If their films had more space to breathe,
they’d have some technically flawless transfers on their hands. As it
stands, Housebound winds up with the single anomaly of banding
creeping in and in the oddest place you’d imagine: a bathroom ceiling.
Thankfully, blacks are inky when necessary but leave plenty of shadow
delineation with no crush whatsoever. Skin tones on the yellow side, but
seems to be a post-production color correction because whenever blood
finally spurts – or police car lights flash – they really pop, and
never, well, bleed. And detail is excellent throughout, helping add
extra creepiness to the house.
As for the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, dialogue may be a little on
the muddled side, but it’s never overwhelmed by music or sound effects.
Something that comes in handy as there are plenty of verbal gags to
along with the atmospherics. Directionality is precise with each creak
and groan right where it would be as if you were the characters
onscreen. Bass also makes for some fun jump moments and English
subtitles are available.
The special features may be on the slim side, but do add plenty of
behind the scenes and lots of spoilers. The “Commentary By the
Filmmakers” consists of director Johnstone, producer Luke Sharpe, and
executive producer Ant Timson. Offering up a rowdy and rambunctious
affair, they offer lots of tidbits about the whole process. A collection
of “Deleted Scenes” (3:59) include on-screen explanations as to their
being cut and include “2nd Dinner Table Scene,” “Peanut Butter,” and
Housebound finds fantastic ways to spoof the standard
haunted house film while finding new ground. And just when you think you
have it all figured out, director Johnstone throws another curveball at
the audience. O’Reilly gets a lot of mileage out of simple facial
expressions as she becomes more bewildered with the circumstance,
ghostbusting security expert Amos (Glen-Paul Waru) gets plenty of
hilarious one-liners, and Miriam puts her deadpan delivery to brilliant
use. While the ending seems to keep going and going, don’t worry, it all
winds up fitting together perfectly by the time the credits roll.
There’s a nice mystery abound and Housebound is a hilarious goosebump-inducing funhouse of a film.
Picture courtesy XLrator Media