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Blu-ray Disc Released: 11/18/2014
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 11/4/2014
"There's nothing new under the sun." I don't know about you, but I hear that old saying more and more these days, especially when it comes to movies. Nobody has any new movie idea and we just have to get used to it. The most that we can hope for is for a movie to take an old notion and simply dazzle us. However, we sometimes come across a movie where we say, "I've seen this same story before." In 2008, Writer/Director Eric Red attempted a comeback (look it up) with the film 100 Feet, which concerned a woman who was placed under house arrest in a house which just happens to be haunted. Housebound, a film released this year, deals with the same topic. Can it dazzle us?
As Housebound opens, Kylie (Morgana O'Reilly) attempts to rob an ATM by blowing it up. She's promptly arrested and given her long rap sheet, instead of sending her to jail, the judge orders Kylie to be placed under house arrest with her mother, Miriam (Rima Te Wiata), and stepfather, Graeme (Ross Harper), who live out in the middle-of-nowhere. Kylie is fitted with an ankle bracelet, which will alert the local security officer, Amos (Glen-Paul Waru), if she leaves the premises. She is also assigned a therapist, Dennis (Cameron Rhodes). The already rebellious Kylie balks at all of this, and simply sulks around the house. She becomes especially perturbed when she hears her mother talking about how she believes the house to be haunted. But, as Kylie explores her domestic prison, she too begins to hear strange noises and see odd things. When a presence actually touches her, she decides that it's time to explore the history of the house and learn what is going on.
Housebound wants to be "the little movie that could". It is a low-budget film from New Zealand which has a slick look and an idea which has potential. The movie is well-acted and everyone seems committed to the premise. The production design is also impressive. The house is very realistically dingy and it certainly isn't glamorous. The few gore effects in the film don't look amateurish.
However, the movie seems to be daring us to like it. First of all, Kylie is incredibly unlikable. Obviously, she's a young punk with a bad attitude, but the movie doesn't give us anything to like about her. Secondly, Housebound has difficulty finding its tone. I've seen the film described as a horror-comedy. I saw the attempts at humor, but most of the them weren't funny. There are some jump scares, and they are much more potent than the jokes.
The movie's biggest problem is the narrative flow and pacing. Long story short -- It takes 75-minutes for the movie to truly become interesting. There are things happening before that, but it feels as if the movie is simply going through the motions. It doesn't take long to set up the film's basic premise and it then repeats itself for a while. Once Housebound makes us sit up and take notice, assuming that you've hung in there, it then decides to wear out its welcome by stretching out the third act. Forget about Kylie's bomb, the real crime here is that the movie doesn't do an adequate job of exploring the big twist.
So, am I recommending 100 Feet because it came first? No, because it's not a very good movie either. The real connection between 100 Feet and Housebound is that both take the clever "Trapped in a house with a ghost" premise and squander it.
Housebound may have found someone to play Idina Menzel's sister on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of XLRator Media. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 21 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain or defects from the source materials. The colors look good and there is a nice bit of depth here. The image is nicely detailed and rarely soft. The only notable problem is that some shots look too dark. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The mix does a good job of highlighting the sounds coming from around the house, as we are treated to several stereo and surround effects, some of which show good detail. The subwoofer is active as well, punctuating the action sequences.
The Housebound Blu-ray Disc contains three extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Producer Luke Sharpe, Executive Producer Ant Timpson, and Writer/Director Gerard Johnstone. The Disc contains three DELETED SCENES which run about 4 minutes, which includes text introductions for each. These intros are nice, as they tell us why each scene was cut. The final extra is a TRAILER for the film.
Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long