Director: Gerard Johnstone
Stars: Morgana O'Reilly, Rima Te Wiata, Glen-Paul Waru, Cameron Rhodes, Millen Baird, Ross Harper, Bruce Hopkins, Ryan Lampp, Ian Mune, Wallace Chapman
Entering SXSW last week, genre critics and fans had their sights set on several movies, mostly those in the Midnighters section. Housebound, though, wasn't on anyone's radar. That quickly changed once New Zealand native Gerard Johnstone's debut film premiered over the first weekend. Immediately after that, horror lovers and experts would start off conversations with, "Did you see Housebound? Fuck, was that great!"
And they weren't lying. Starting off as a standard haunted house picture but morphing into something much stranger and more intriguing, Housebound thrives on the lead performance from actress Morgana O'Reilly. She's fantastic as Kylie, a criminal placed under house arrest at her mother's home and amazing at giving hilariously deadpan facial reactions to all the weird shit happening there. As in, the teddy bear with a life and mean-spirited sarcasm of its own; the large figure covered in a white sheet; and the secret passageways that resembles those seen in Wes Craven's underrated film The People Under the Stairs.
Johnstone's horror-comedy routinely upends your expectations, eventually revealing itself to be a different kind of genre film than it began as, and saving its terrifically gory carnage until its bonkers finale. -Matt Barone