Housebound will make you laugh and yelp

SPIRITED PERFORMANCES: Rima Te Wiata and Morgana O'Reilly star in Housebound.
SPIRITED PERFORMANCES: Rima Te Wiata and Morgana O'Reilly star in Housebound.

Some months this job really is just an absolute pleasure.

Last week, I got to see The Last Saint (sadly only on limited release around the country), which is a film I like even more, the more I think about it.

I loved Saint for its rawness and nerve, and the fact that it proved-again, and the New Zealand industry is getting too practised at this now - just how much can be achieved for next-to-no money. But more than that, the genius of The Last Saint is that it takes some of the hoariest old cliches of American and British gangster dramas, right down to the gratuitous strip bar location, and gives them a local twist and a very overdue dose of satiric self-awareness.

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Fast forward a week, and I'm at a well-attended Wednesday night preview for new local comedy/horror Housebound.

Also made for a budget well-south of what feature films are "supposed" to cost, taking on a very familiar story, and again knocking it out of the park with energy, guile, complete understanding of genre, and - this time - a dose of very Kiwi humour that will have you laughing out loud just as often you're yelping with fright (And yes, Housebound made me yelp at least once).

Morgana O'Reilly is Kylie. She's young, angry as hell, and freshly sentenced to nine-months home detention at a spooky old pile she'll have to share with her mum (Rima Te Wiata) and numpty-ish step-dad - Graeme.

It's not long before Kylie starts to wonder whether the house might be haunted, and hardly any time at all before Housebound is delivering some expertly timed scares and laughs.

Writer/director Gerard Johnstone knows the whakapapa of this film inside and out, and he offers up camera angles, edits, and sound cues that have been making audiences jump for three generations now. But the old sleights of hand still work, and Johnstone is a skilled practitioner.

Aided by some very stylish cinematography from Simon Riera, a blisteringly good vintage-horror soundtrack, and plenty of the brilliant design and set-dressing we take for granted with the New Zealand industry now, Housebound is a rollicking success. This is a fast, funny, good-natured, and wickedly effective comedy-horror to adore.

It's not perfect; there are a couple of moments where Housebound is missing a smooth transition between its scenes. And I guess you could argue that not every support performance is up to the very high standards the core cast set. But, those tiny quibbles aside, this is another New Zealand film to celebrate, and to go see.

It's a very hard thing to make a standout film in the over-populated comedy/horror genre. Housebound succeeds where countless recent American movies have failed. If you liked What We Do In The Shadows, then you'll be well happy you saw Housebound too.

Housebound (R13), 109 mins, directed by Gerard Johnstone.