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Gerard Johnstone
Morgana O'Reilly, Rima Te Wiata, Glen-Paul Waru, Cameron Rhodes, Ryan Lampp
Writing Credits:
Gerard Johnstone

Kylie Bucknell is forced to return to the house she grew up in when the court places her on home detention. Her punishment is made all the more unbearable by the fact she has to live there with her mother Miriam - a well-intentioned blabbermouth who's convinced that the house is haunted.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 112 min.
Price: $20.99
Release Date: 11/18/2014

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Gerard Johnstone, Producer Luke Sharpe and Executive Producer Ant Timpson
• Deleted Scenes
• Trailer
• Previews


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Housebound [Blu-Ray] (2014)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 11, 2014)

On the cover of the Blu-ray for 2014’s Housebound, find a laudatory quote from Sir Peter Jackson. The presence of the praise didn’t surprise me, but the fact that Jackson’s now a knight did. Who knew?

After she gets arrested for a drug-fueled ATM robbery, Kylie Bucknell (Morgana O’Reilly) finds herself placed under house arrest – and sent to do so at the abode maintained by her nattering mother Miriam (Rima Te Wiata) and her stepfather Graeme (Ross Harper). During this detention, she realizes that Miriam believes in the paranormal and thinks a ghost resides in the home. It turns out that Kylie felt the same as a child, but now as a hard-edged, cynical adult, she sees dementia in Miriam more than spirits in the basement.

This changes – sort of. As time passes, Kylie starts to feel spooked by events in the house, but she remains skeptical about the paranormal, even when her “ghostbusting” probation officer Amos (Glen-Paul Waru) becomes involved. Still, Kylie starts to wonder if the house is haunted or if she’s just going bonkers.

The answer to that question becomes the most intriguing aspect of Housebound, as it doesn’t telegraph its supernatural elements. Most modern horror films tend toward the obvious path. Oh, they pay lip service to logical causes, but they usually lean toward the literal ghost-oriented side of things.

This doesn’t occur in the more understated Housebound. Does it eventually tell us its own truth of the situation? Yup, but it takes a pleasantly long time to get there, and it keeps matters up for grabs as it goes.

Even when we figure out the reality of events, Housebound still packs tension and surprises, as it provides additional twists – and clever ones, too. The movie seems well-plotted, as it goes through its narrative in a pretty logical manner. Perhaps if I watch the movie a second time, I might find more holes, but on first glance, it seems to hold together pretty well – for a movie with ample amounts of nuttiness, the story appears about as logical and sound as I could hope.

I also like the film’s understated wit. With a bit of a debt to 1982’s Poltergeist - as well as Sir Jackson’s own Frighteners - Housebound mixes horror with subdued comedy. It never becomes a laughfest, but the flick manages some saucy wit along the way, an element that makes it even more fun.

Housebound works best simply because it stays nervewracking. I don’t think I’d call it genuinely scary, but I also don’t think it tries to go down that path. Instead, it gets under our skin with its machinations and creates a tension in the viewer deeper than just the occasional “jump moment”.

I can’t claim that Housebound avoids all the usual horror tropes, but I think it overcomes genre trappings awfully well. A minor gem, Housebound delivers a delightful horror experience.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus C

Housebound appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though not an eye-popping presentation, the transfer served the material well.

Sharpness looked good. A smidgen of softness hit some wider shots, but those instances remained quite insubstantial, so the majority of the flick showed fine clarity and accuracy. Jaggies and shimmering failed to distract, and edge haloes remained absent. The movie also lacked any source flaws and was consistently clean.

In terms of colors, Housebound went with subdued tones, as the movie tended toward an amber feel; some blues cropped up as well. The hues never stood out as memorable, but they weren’t supposed to be impressive, so they were fine for this story’s stripped palette. Blacks were pretty deep, and shadows were well-depicted. The image offered a solid “B+” presentation.

As for the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it lacked a ton of ambition, though I didn’t view that as a flaw. A story like this came heavy on ambience and light on opportunities for fireworks, so the absence of showy sequences failed to become a problem. Music filled the various channels in a satisfying manner, and low-key effects fleshed out the spectrum in a logical manner. Nothing dazzled but the mix seemed workable for the material.

Audio quality pleased. Speech was concise and natural, while effects – as subdued as they tended to be – remained accurate and full-bodied. Music was vibrant and dynamic. While this was never a memorable track, it suited the story.

When we shift to extras, we open with an audio commentary from writer/director Gerard Johnstone, producer Luke Sharpe and executive producer Ant Timpson. All three sit together for their running, screen-specific look at story/character areas, cast and performances, sets and locations, music, editing, camerawork, effects and related topics.

Expect a light chat here – probably too light, to be honest, as the commentary lacks a lot of substance. As it goes, we do learn decent filmmaking nuggets, but the participants seem more interested in joking with each other. Although this ensures the track moves at a good rate, it doesn’t tell us enough about the movie’s creation.

Three Deleted Scenes fill a total of three minutes, 59 seconds. We get some additional moments with Kylie on house arrest – and some hints of eventual plot developments. All add a little to the tale but not a substantial amount.

The disc opens with ads for Ironclad 2: Battle for Blood, The Scribbler, The Mule and Poker Night. We also get the trailer for Housebound.

Modern horror movies rarely become anything more than predictable “boo-fests”, but Housebound manages to transcend the usual mold. It gives us a well-plotted and engaging tale that keeps us involved from start to finish. The Blu-ray offers solid picture and audio as well as average bonus materials. Housebound becomes a pleasant surprise, as it gives us an unusually clever and dynamic thriller.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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