Maori Mayhem – Housebound

Here is the transcipt of Darrell Buxton’s introduction to the wonderful Housebound, that played at Fright Club over the weekend (17th – 19th September 2015).

houseboundHello and welcome to July’s second Fright Club presentation – after the amazing antics of THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 3 last weekend, we’re keeping the momentum going tonight. For, despite its title hinting at minimalism and confinement, HOUSEBOUND is a fast-moving and incident-packed modern shocker. HOUSEBOUND is being promoted as a horror comedy, which doesn’t quite do it justice. Sure, there are some very funny moments, including one lovely gag towards the end that made me laugh out loud, but in the main the movie generally plays it straight  – it has to, with a rather complex plot and a jumble of characters involved.

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What we’ve got here is another product of the post-LORD OF THE RINGS, resurgent New Zealand film industry. It’s often forgotten that New Zealand filmmakers were going down the horror route way back, via early-to-mid-eighties items like the haunted car offering MR. WRONG, the Maori possession story THE LOST TRIBE, the mind-control psychothriller from the pen of MR HOLMES director Bill Condon, STRANGE BEHAVIOUR, the atmospheric rural shocker THE SCARECROW, starring the legendary John Carradine, and the clever twist on the standard ‘woman in peril pursued by psycho” idea in TRIAL RUN. The nineties brought the critically acclaimed gothic saga of twisted twins, JACK BE NIMBLE, and of course Peter Jackson kicked off his stellar career with a string of classic low-budget gore comedies including alien invasion outrage BAD TASTE, X-rated Muppet show MEET THE FEEBLES and zombie fest BRAIN DEAD.

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The past few months have seen the release of another New Zealand genre piece, WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS, the excellent vampire spoof from the ‘Flight Of The Conchords’ guys, which I hope you saw here just before Christmas – and hot on its heels comes HOUSEBOUND. HOUSEBOUND comes from first-time director Gerard Johnstone, while you may recognise the name of executive producer Ant Timpson, one of the kings of current New Zealand horror and the mastermind behind the two ABCs OF DEATH compilations, making him a firm favourite with us at Fright Club. Ant presently has two new productions imminent, DEATHGASM and THE GREASY STRANGLER, both of which sound right up our dark alley.

Housebound

HOUSEBOUND is distinguished by its picture of a fractious mother/daughter relationship, by its playful melding of familiar horror themes ultimately managing to still offer surprises aplenty, and by several well above average performances, notably by Rima Te Wiata as the mother of the main character, a non-stop talker and general fusspot who grounds this movie in a mundane reality that truly lends an air of verisimilitude to its often otherwise outlandish storyline. As a huge fan of ‘Coronation Street’ myself, I entirely sympathise with Rima’s wailing protests when she’s deprived of the opportunity to watch her favourite British soap at the appointed regular time. In a further tv soap opera connection, HOUSEBOUND’s star Morgana O’Reilly has been a key member of the cast of ‘Neighbours’ for the past 18 months, having taken on the role of sassy new character ‘Naomi Canning’ in the hit Aussie show.

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HOUSEBOUND cleverly plays on that ‘urban haunted house’ idea which seems to have been revived in recent years on the commercial horror circuit, but with the twist that the central figure played by Morgana is a convicted criminal with an electronic tag, preventing her from leaving the disturbed property. Lounging around the house all day and attempting to avoid her annoying mum, she soon gets caught up in the strange goings-on – but is everything as supernatural as it seems, or is there more to this? It’s a movie that keeps you guessing, and one that effectively laces a layer of humour into the storyline, with the laughs arising naturally from the situation rather than being crammed in for comic impact, thereby not diluting the creepy or shock elements one bit.

If Te Wiata steals the show as the mother, O’Reilly almost matches her with a performance that doesn’t really belong in a horror film – her rebellious nature continues even when it seems she is being haunted or something is trying to frighten her out of her wits. The importance of the domestic incarceration angle highlighted in the film’s title may dwindle as the tale develops, but the revelations towards the end are freaky enough to paper over any cracks, and HOUSEBOUND can stand proudly alongside WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS as further evidence that New Zealand is offering competition to Australia in the Southern Hemisphere horror stakes.

So, buckle up for an evening of Maori mayhem  – not to mention domestic danger  – and enjoy HOUSEBOUND.

 

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