It was only a matter of time before we got a film like Gerard Johnstone’s Housebound in which it turns the haunted house genre on its head with its witty, genre-bending narrative about a girl who is forced to return to the house she grew up in when the court places her on home arrest. However, when she too becomes privy to unsettling whispers and strange bumps in the night, she begins to wonder if the house is possessed by a hostile spirit who’s less than happy about the new living arrangement.
Housebound is the kind of movie that makes you wonder how someone hasn’t come up with the idea already; it’s such a unique and inventive spin on the genre that is so simple, yet so genius. It’s great to see filmmakers like Johnstone continue to think out side of the box when dipping their toes into the cinematic world of horror, especially when the result is a film like Housebound, one that never roots itself in just one genre. You’re never just watching a comedy or a horror film as it smartly blends the two in a way that will have you laughing one moment and then legitimately freaked out the next. That’s not an easy thing to do and Johnstone does it seamlessly with a wicked blend of humor drenched in a sinister atmosphere.
The first half of the film is spent building a story that is meant to convince the audience that they know exactly where it’s all headed; it’s very much a cookie-cutter kind of setup, one that is littered with plenty of humor, witty dialog and charming characters. The familiarity, however, ends there as the second half pulls the proverbial rug out from under you, revealing one twist after another. It’s such a great way to tell a story because although the first half is quite entertaining, it’s just a harbinger for the things to come as the story is elevated by sharp direction that keeps you guessing until the final, bloody blow.
More than anything else, though, Housebound is as entertaining as it gets. That’s what really fuels Johnstone’s feature because while it’s as unique as they come and hits all the right beats throughout its entire running time, its real triumph is that it brilliantly mixes comedy into the story without it feeling like a parody of the genre, and the result is pure and honest laughs that happen to come with plenty of scares. It’s a special kind of movie that, unfortunately, doesn’t come around too often. But when they do, they’re a hell of a lot of fun.