Although not a thriller per se, Housebound, a Kiwi film opening around the country today, is set to thrill.
Describing the genre - a mix of comedy, supernatural, and horror - actress Rima Te Wiata says people shouldn’t be worried it’ll give them nightmares.
“You’re not going to get home and be terrified of going to the woodshed for the rest of your life,” she says. “It’s a good rollicking laugh.
“You’ll sit on the edge of your seat, get a fright, and have a laugh.”
Filmed mostly on Auckland’s North Shore, Housebound is director Gerard Johnstone’s first feature-length film. What was supposed to be a four-week project stretched out to three years of on-off shooting, with Sir Peter Jackson labelling the end result “bloody brilliant”.
Housebound is about a badly-behaved young woman, Kylie Bucknell (Morgana O’Reilly) who is placed on home detention, and forced to move back in with her mother, Miriam (Te Wiata). To make matters worse for Kylie, Miriam is an overbearing blabbermouth, who’s convinced the house is haunted.
Te Wiata describes her character as a “typical small-town woman, with a few quirks”.
“[The film] is very specifically Kiwi. We’re quite proud of it, without being smug, of course.”
Te Wiata was born to Kiwi parents in England, and moved here when she was eight. Having travelled around New Zealand so much since then, she says the entire country feels like home.
Viewers may recognise her from the long-running Australian soap Sons and Daughters, or the 1998 movie Via Satellite -- another comic-drama about a dysfunctional middle-class family.
“We seem to be into dysfunction in this country… we like bringing out what’s quirky and bonkers,” she says.
When she’s not in front of the camera, Te Wiata can be found performing on stage.
“Comedy is just where I’ve ended up. But I like to do as much as I can of everything.
“In some ways in New Zealand it’s easier to have a more versatile career, because you’ve got to. So we’re lucky here. I love the variety.”
Although she doesn’t have children of her own, Te Wiata says over the years she has adopted lots of “theatre children” -- the latest addition being O’Reilly.
“We get on really well, we share a similar sense of humour,” she says. “We’re both a bit nutty.”
The film premiered on March 10 at South by Southwest in Texas, and has had rave reviews around the world. Coming home, however, will be its real test. Is this a new benchmark for Kiwi comedy?
Cast: Morgana O'Reilly, Rima Te Wiata, Glen-Paul Waru, Cameron Rhodes, Milen Baird
Director: Gerard Johnstone
Running Time: 109min
See it: From today at cinemas around the country