Making a horror-comedy is a tricky proposition. If you manage to get the comedy right, good luck with the horror. Or vice versa.
New Zealand’s Housebound finds the perfect mix of laughs and chills — often at the same time. Morgana O’Reilly stars as Kylie, an irascible thief who, nabbed in the act and then confined to house arrest with her mother, Miriam (Rima Te Wiata), and her stepfather, notices odd and eerie phenomena in their spooky old house.
If you’ve seen even one ghost story, the first half of Housebound is a bit familiar. But once our heroine teams up with Miriam and with an eccentric security officer (Glen-Paul Waru) to investigate those bumps in the night — and a menacing neighbor — the pace picks up and Housebound becomes an absolute delight.
Miriam and Kylie have a strained relationship
There’s no place like home — especially when you’re wearing an ankle monitor
Top to bottom: Security officer Amos (Waru) sidelines as a ghost-hunter; intrepid investigators Kylie and Amos; Kylie’s smug social worker
Most found-footage horror movies have major credibility issues. No matter how dedicated the photographer is to capturing everything on video, when a killer is trying to stab you with a knife, or when a monster is chasing you through the woods, I’m sorry, but you are going to put down the damn camera.
But if you do that, we have no more movie.
[Rec], a 2007 horror-thriller from Spain, finds a clever way around those credibility problems (for the most part). The protagonists are a pair of TV journalists who, sensing they have stumbled onto a big story, decide they need to document everything on camera — no matter how horrific.
And horrific it is when our dynamic duo accompanies firefighters on a routine call to an apartment building that turns out to be anything but routine. There is a virus or infection on the loose — think fast-acting rabies — and it’s threatening everyone in the building. The infected immediately turn into, you guessed it, bloodthirsty monsters.
Adding to the problem: City authorities are aware of the situation and have quarantined everyone, the infected and uninfected, inside. So, yeah, no escape.
What follows is a frantic hour of suspense and horror that culminates in a truly nightmarish finale.
This film was so successful that it inspired a U.S. remake, Quarantine, and three Spanish sequels.
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