Wednesday, June 10, 2015

What-to-Watch Wednesday - Housebound (2014)

There has always been an unlikely marriage between comedy and horror.  Some people experience the same level of hilarity watching a horror film as they do a comedy.  And most horror films do employ comedic devices to ease tension and set the audience up for a scare.  But, I've never really seen one that blends horror and comedy evenly throughout.  It is that delicate balance which elevates Housebound beyond a standard horror film.

The film follows the experiences of Kylie, a drug addict, who isn't above seriously breaking the law to get her next fix.  The opening scene sets the comedic tone as she and a partner attempt to rob an ATM machine.  Kylie is caught and sentenced to 8-months house arrest at the home of her estranged family.

When she begins her house arrest, Kylie has to deal with her negative feelings towards her mother, an incessantly cheery woman who seems to have no idea how to deal with her addict daughter.  Soon Kylie learns that her mother believes the house is haunted.  Kylie wastes no time in letting her mother know how ridiculous she thinks the idea is.

Kylie's attitude about the unusual occurrences around the house is what brings a lot of the humor into the film.  She is tough-as-nails and world-weary and has no time for creaky floors and sudden chills.  Her response to a door that repeatedly opens all by itself: take the door off the hinges.

However, the strange occurrences keep happening, and slowly Kylie begins to realize that she is trapped in a house with something that appears to be out to get her.  No one believes her, and attempts to leave are met with derision and incredulity by the authorities.  The only person who does believe her is her mother.

There is a mystery about the house that Kylie begins to uncover.  What she finds out is, at first, pretty routine ghost-story stuff: the house has a secret past that might predispose it to being haunting.  However, in undertaking the investigation as a way of saving herself and her family, Kylie finds renewed purpose and a feeling of self worth, and she's finally able to use her considerable wiliness for something positive.

And, all along, there are moments of inexplicable humor, which lends a charm to the characters and makes their situation seem more dire.  I don't know how the director, Gerard Johnstone, managed to pull off this tug-o-war between humor and horror, but I do know it works and had me invested in the characters and the story.

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