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Housebound

8/10

Stars: Morgana O’Reilly, Rima Te Wiata, Glen-Paul Waru, Cameron Rhodes, Milen Baird, Ross Harper, Ryan Lampp, Wallace Chapman, Mick Innes, Ian Mune

Director: Gerard Johnstone

It’s obvious from the start that twentysomething Morgana O’Reilly is a really bad young woman.

The film opens with her and a male accomplice’s attempted robbery of an ATM going horribly wrong, landing her in court, with her rap sheet as further evidence of her innate badness.

Even worse, though, O’Reilly smokes! So can she possibly be redeemed?

The judge thinks so, sparing her prison. Instead, he sentences her to be confined to her mother’s home for eight months with a bracelet to ensure she doesn’t stray, and to sessions with psychiatrist Cameron Rhodes.

Given that the house in question resembles a second choice holiday home for the Addams Family, its pretty clear things aren’t going to improve for sullen O’Reilly. And, indeed, they don’t since mom Rima Te Wiata believes the house is haunted as O’Reilly learns when her mother discusses the sad saga on a local radio talk show.

And, as always, mother knows best¬Ö

While writer-director Gerald Johnstone takes a just tad too long to get his splendidly schlocky mix of murder, supernatural shenanigans and black, black humour going, once everything kicks in, Housebound emerges as a riotous riff on a genre that all too often these days sinks under the weight of its clichés and pretensions.

It helps, too, that the unfamiliar players giving on the-spot performances add creepy punch to the zany comedy shocker.

O¬íReilly and Te Wiata are spot on, splendidly brackish comedy comes courtesy of security man Glen-Paul Waru (¬ďYou can¬ít punch ectoplasm¬Ē) who joins forces with O¬íReilly to investigate the possible catalyst for all the ghostly and ghastly goings on ¬Ė a set of dentures and a homicidal prowler.

There’s even a shower scene that, with careful promotion, could possibly just join Janet Leigh in appropriately exhaustive horrorflick indices and, for me, a truly chilling line..

According to Johnstone, In New Zealand, Friday nights are Coronation Street nights for Te Wiata and O’Reilly’s stepfather.

Now that really scares me.

Alan Frank

New Zealand 2014. UK Distributor: Metrodome. Colour.
107 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 0, Swearing 3.

Review date: 02 Jul 2015