This scrappy, silly, sweary and slyly subversive Kiwi horror-comedy comes with a seal of approval from Wellington’s own patron saint of DIY horror, Peter Jackson – which is no surprise, considering how much DNA it shares with his early films. Here’s the spooky, crumbling old house from ‘Brain Dead’, with its flock wallpaper and Big Ben doorchime. There’s the vengeful spirit from ‘The Frighteners’, intent on sending house-arrested twentysomething law-breaker Kylie (Morgana O’Reilly) into an early grave. And scattered throughout is the kind of mordant, keenly-observed satire on small-town small-mindedness we saw in ‘Heavenly Creatures’, as our heroine kicks against the pettiness of dumb cops, creepy social workers and a mother who gets her biggest kicks watching ‘Coronation Street’.
But ‘Housebound’ is more than just a garish Jackson pastiche (though that would’ve been fun enough). First-time director Gerard Johnstone may not possess the wild visual invention of his patron – few filmmakers do – but he’s ruthlessly proficient at old-school scares (the producers of the recent ‘Poltergeist’ remake must, and should, be kicking themselves). And even though the plot is a bit threadbare, that’s easy to overlook when the dialogue is so sharp (‘you cannot punch ectoplasm!’) and the pace so well maintained, right to the splat-happy finale.