Housebound is a 2014 New Zealand horror comedy film written, edited, and directed by Gerard Johnstone. It is his feature film directorial debut.[1] The film had its world premiere on 10 March 2014, at South by Southwest and stars Morgana O'Reilly as a woman sentenced to house arrest in a potentially haunted house.[2]

Directed byGerard Johnstone
Produced byLuke Sharpe
Written byGerard Johnstone
Music byMahuia Bridgman-Cooper
CinematographySimon Riera
Edited byGerard Johnstone
Semi-Professional Pictures
Release date
  • 10 March 2014 (2014-03-10) (SXSW)
Running time
106 minutes
CountryNew Zealand


Kylie, a troubled young woman, attempts to steal the safe from an ATM. Her accomplice knocks himself out while attacking the ATM with a sledgehammer, and, when she is slowed by attempting to save him, the police capture both. Due to her history of recidivism, she is sentenced by the judge to house arrest for eight months under the care of her mother, Miriam. Kylie does not get along with either her mother or her step-father, Graeme, both of whom she considers to be nothing but boring annoyances. A security contractor, Amos, explains that Kylie's ankle monitor will alert the police if she ever leaves the premises of her mother's house.

Kylie is further frustrated when Miriam calls a radio talk show and says that her house is haunted. After a disembodied hand grabs her ankle in the basement, Kylie becomes convinced that an intruder is in the house. Amos, responding to an alert from her ankle monitor after it reports tampering, takes Miriam's suggestion of a haunting seriously, much to Kylie's annoyance. Amos promises to return with ghost hunting equipment and perform a thorough examination of the house for free. When Kylie expresses continued skepticism, Amos chides her for having a closed mind.

After a series of unexplained experiences, including repeatedly encountering the same animatronic teddy bear, Kylie comes to believe that there may be a ghost in the house. Dennis, a clinical psychologist assigned to Kylie, becomes concerned with what he believes to be possible delusions in both Miriam and Kylie. After reviewing footage from security cameras, Amos does not believe her reports and accuses her of lying. However, once Graeme reveals to Kylie that their home was once a halfway house and the site of a horrific murder, Amos once again becomes interested. As they investigate further, they discover evidence of the crime, including an orthodontic retainer. During a visit, a blackout occurs, and Dennis is attacked by an unknown assailant. The police are skeptical of Miriam's insistence that a ghost is responsible, but they do not push any further.

When Kylie and Amos discover that her neighbour uses a retainer, Kylie breaks into the man's house and wakes him as she attempts to take his retainer. After she flees back to the family's home and hides in the basement, Kylie panics when she believes the neighbour to be stalking her, and she accidentally stabs Graeme, who has also entered the basement. As Graeme recuperates in the hospital, Amos in turn attempts to break into her neighbour's house. The neighbour says that he is not the killer, and he tells the story of a young savant, Eugene, whom he adopted. Eugene is an expert at mechanics and electronics, and he disappeared a year previous to the killing, though the neighbour believes him to be possibly responsible.

At the same time, Kylie accidentally discovers Eugene's secret hallways in their house, and she flees. Kylie and Amos separately converge at the police station, and Amos corroborates her wild stories of a serial killer who lives in hidden passageways. However, the police find no evidence, and Dennis convinces all involved that it would be best if Kylie were institutionalized. Once Dennis reveals that he wears a retainer, Kylie becomes suspicious of him. When she confronts him with evidence that he was an intern at the halfway house, he turns hostile and attempts to kill Miriam and Kylie. He kills a policeman. When Amos arrives at the house, Dennis incapacitates him. Kylie and Miriam flee into the secret tunnels, where they encounter Eugene.

Realizing that their paranormal activity has been Eugene all this time, they are at first frightened but realize that he is friendly. Dennis stabs Eugene, and, after an extended hunt that results in Dennis' presumed death, he knocks out Kylie and begins to strangle Miriam. Eugene wakes Kylie and hands her a weapon, which she uses to stab Dennis. As Dennis sees that the weapon is connected to a long cable, Eugene throws a switch, and high voltage explodes Dennis' head.

Months later, all have recovered, Amos finally removes Kylie's ankle monitor, and Eugene has seemingly become an accepted (albeit mostly unseen) member of the household.



Johnstone was first inspired to create a horror film after watching Ghosthunters on television and received additional inspiration from classic films such as The Changeling and The Legend of Hell House.[3] While writing the script Johnstone wanted the character of Kylie to be "someone that wouldn't scare easily. That way, when she does finally fall victim to fear, it's much more palpable."[3] He experienced some difficulty in achieving the film's exterior shots of the house, as budgetary issues limited their options of homes and renovations to the exterior of their chosen house during the course of filming also raised some issues.[3]


Housebound had its world premiere at the South by Southwest film festival on 11 March 2014.[4]


Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 95% of 42 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating is 7.54/10. The site's consensus reads: " Alternately hilarious, gross, and simply diverting, Housebound is the rare horror-comedy that delivers on both fronts."[5] Metacritic rated it 76/100 based on 10 reviews.[6]

Hitfix gave it an A and wrote "sometimes at the festival you walk into a room knowing nothing, sit down, and get your skull punched in by a movie that is calibrated perfectly, that knows exactly what it wants to do, and that seems almost unnaturally confident considering it was made by a first-time feature director".[7] Fangoria praised the film, rating it at 3 out of 4 stars and stating that it "neatly carries some universal ideas about throwing away childish indignation and rebellion, and getting to know your parents as people with pasts and personal lives, not just nagging overseers."[8] Shock Till You Drop also gave Housebound a positive rating, as they considered it one of the highlights of South by Southwest.[9] said it was a breath of fresh air for the often stale haunted-house genre.[10] Badass Digest told readers they had "a new favorite horror film of 2014".[11] Chuck Bowen of Slant Magazine rated it 2.5/4 stars and wrote that each of the film's elements are "competently and engagingly orchestrated" but do not combine into a coherent whole.[12]

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Work Result Ref.
2014 Fright Meter Awards Best Supporting Actress Rima Te Wiata Won [13]
Best Horror Movie Housebound Nominated
Best Director Gerard Johnstone Nominated
Best Actress Morgana O'Reilly Nominated
Best Screenplay Gerard Johnstone Nominated
Best Editing Gerard Johnstone Nominated
Dead by Dawn Best Feature Film Housebound Won [14]
Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival Best Feature Film Housebound Won [15]
New Zealand Film & Television Awards Best Actress Morgana O'Reilly Nominated [16]
Best Supporting Actress Rima Te Wiata Nominated
Best Director Gerard Johnstone Nominated
Best Make-Up Jacinta Driver Nominated
Best Costume Design Lissy Mayer Nominated
Best Film Housebound Nominated
Best Visual Effects Matt Westbrooke Nominated
Best Production Design Jane Bucknell Nominated
Best Cinematography Simon Riera Nominated
Best Sound Franklin Road Sound Post Production Nominated
Best Poster Design Johnny Lyon Won
Strasbourg European Fantastic Film Festival Audience Award Housebound Won [17]
Toronto After Dark Film Festival Best Horror Film Housebound Won [18]
Best Comedy Film Won
Best Ensemble Cast Won
2015 Fangoria Chainsaw Awards Best Limited Release Film Housebound Nominated [19]
Best Screenplay Gerard Johnstone Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Rima Te Wiata Nominated


In February 2015, New Line Cinema announced the production of a US remake.[20] Original writer and director Gerard Johnstone is set with Dave Neustadter and Walter Hamada as executive producer for New Line.[21]


  1. "Dominic Corry: Gerard Johnstone on Housebound". NZ Herald. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
  2. "Dark New Zealand Comedy HOUSEBOUND Visits The Loo In First Clip". Twitch Film. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
  3. Whittaker, Richard. "SXSW Gets 'Housebound". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
  4. "Schedule: Housebound". South by Southwest. Retrieved 16 November 2014.
  5. "Housebound (2014)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 3 November 2019.
  6. "Housebound". Metacritic. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  7. McWeeny, Drew (15 March 2014). "Smart and funny, someone needs to snap this up". Hitfix. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  8. Zimmerman, Samuel. ""HOUSEBOUND" (SXSW Movie Review)". Fangoria. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
  9. Turek, Ryan. "SXSW Review: Housebound is the Real Discovery of the Fest". STYD. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
  10. Hall, Peter (11 March 2014). "'Housebound' Mixes a Haunted-House Formula with Slasher Mystery to Create a Pretty Great Horror Movie". Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  11. Gholson, John (14 March 2014). "SXSW Review: Creepy Crowd-Pleaser HOUSEBOUND Makes A Big Impression". Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  12. Bowen, Chuck (12 October 2014). "Housebound". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  13. "Fright Meter Awards". Retrieved 16 April 2016.
  14. "Dead by Dawn 2014". Retrieved 16 April 2016.
  15. "Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival". Retrieved 16 April 2016.
  16. Baillie, Russell (12 December 2014). "The Dark Horse sweeps NZ film awards". Retrieved 16 April 2016.
  17. "Strasbourg European Fantastic Film Fest: 2014 Winners".
  18. "Award Winners". Archived from the original on 25 April 2016. Retrieved 16 April 2016.
  19. "Chainsaw Awards Exclusive: "HOUSEBOUND" 'For Your Consideration' Posters!". 3 March 2015. Retrieved 16 April 2016.
  20. "'Housebound' Getting Remade By New Line".
  21. "Housebound Being Remade".
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.