Horror Movie Review: Housebound (2014)

“You know, the closed mind is the worst defense against the paranormal, Kylie. What are you gonna do against a hostile spirit? You just gonna crack jokes?”

“No, I am going to smash it in the face.”

Housebound is a 2014 New Zealand horror comedy film written, edited, and directed by Gerard Johnstone. It is his feature film directorial debut. It stars Morgana O’Reilly as a woman sentenced to house arrest in a potentially haunted house.

Kylie (Morgana O’Reilly), a troubled young woman, attempts to steal the safe from an ATM. Her accomplice knocks himself out while attacking the ATM with a sledgehammer, and, when she is slowed by attempting to save him, the police capture both. Due to her history of recidivism, she is sentenced by the judge to house arrest for eight months under the care of her mother, Miriam (Rima Te Wiata). Kylie does not get along with either her mother or her step-father, Graeme (Ross Harper), both of whom she considers to be nothing but boring annoyances. A security contractor, Amos (Glen-Paul Waru), explains that Kylie’s ankle monitor will alert the police if she ever leaves the premises of her mother’s house.


Kylie is further frustrated when Miriam calls a radio talk show and says that her house is haunted. After a disembodied hand grabs her ankle in the basement, Kylie becomes convinced that an intruder is in the house. Amos, responding to an alert from her ankle monitor after it reports tampering, takes Miriam’s suggestion of a haunting seriously, much to Kylie’s annoyance. Amos promises to return with ghost hunting equipment and perform a thorough examination of the house for free. When Kylie expresses continued skepticism, Amos chides her for having a closed mind.


After a series of unexplained experiences, including repeatedly finding the same animatronic teddy bear in several rooms and it attacking her, Kylie comes to believe that there may be a ghost in the house. Dennis (Cameron Rhodes), a clinical psychologist assigned to Kylie, becomes concerned with what he believes to be possible delusions in both Miriam and Kylie. After reviewing footage from security cameras, Amos does not believe her reports and accuses her of lying. However, once Graeme reveals to Kylie that their home was once a halfway house and the site of a horrific murder, Amos once again becomes interested. As they investigate further, they discover evidence of the crime, including an orthodontic retainer.


During a visit, a blackout occurs, and Dennis is attacked by an unknown assailant. The police are skeptical of Miriam’s insistence that a ghost is responsible, but they do not push any further.


When Kylie and Amos discover that her neighbour uses a retainer, Kylie breaks into the man’s house and wakes him as she attempts to take his retainer. After she flees back to the family’s home and hides in the basement, Kylie panics when she believes the neighbour to be stalking her, and she accidentally stabs Graeme, who has also entered the basement.

Will Graeme be okay? Is the neighbour really a murderer? Or is there someone else more unexpected to blame? Watch to find out and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed…

Housebound is really something. It’s part ghost story, part murder mystery, part slapstick comedy and part family drama. The dialog, facial expression and spot on timing of the action keep this mash up of genres amusing every step of the way. Just when you think you know which way it’s heading, it either makes fun of the standard clichés or skips them entirely, casting us into a twist and turn that starts it all over again with an entirely new plot development. And when you think you know where that plot line is headed, it does it again. Despite its gory and violent moments, somehow this movie manages to stay relatively good-natured and for me the whole set up felt very familiar (a troublesome dark haired daughter with an overbearing mother: sounds like my teenage years). On top of everything its casting is on point, my favourites being both mother and daughter (Miriam and Kylie) who both individually made me laugh out loud.

New Zealand seems to put out the best horror films, they know how to make comedy horror for sure. From Braindead (Dead Alive) to What We Do In The Shadows and now Housebound, keep these classics coming because they’re brilliant.


  • Sally Powell

    Editor/Writer - Stay at home mum educating the horror minds of tomorrow. If it's got vampires or Nicolas Cage in it, I'm sold. Found cleaning bums or kicking ass in an RPG. (And occasionally here reviewing all things horror and gaming related!)

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