[Editor’s Note: This is our last Friday Frights piece, as Halloween is Monday. This column (originally conceived as Friday Fight, but called Friday Frights in honor of Halloween) will return after we take a week or two off to iron out the details, as I noted last week. This month we restricted all of our picks to Netflix selections, which we may or may not do in the future, but I certainly recommend that if you have Netflix you should check out all of the interesting selections from this month. One quick reminder to check out our friends over at Cinapse, who run a similar column called Two Cents, which kinda sorta gave me the idea for this. Stay spoopy, or whatever the kids say these days. I, now, return you to our regularly scheduled horror chat.]
There is something that is really hard to do in horror and in life in general: create a new phobia. We are skittish about what we’re skittish about, and that’s pretty much it once we turn to adulthood. Maybe a highly traumatic experience will instill a new phobia, but mostly films serve to exploit preexisting fears: arachnophobia, claustrophobia, mysophobia, etc. Horror wants to get into our head, exploit the little things that cause us to leave the light on at night (nyctophobia, so to speak), the things that cause us to become alert when we hear a noise where a person was not (phasmophobia, perhaps).
Much rarer, then, is it for a horror film to crack a place your imagination has yet to glimpse and give you a phobia previously not considered, yet Housebound succeeds. Never before had I contemplated Housebound‘s major narrative twist, an idea that still causes me to shiver in my bed. There isn’t even a word for this phobia and, even more unsettling, an Internet search confirms that there is a reason to fear-there are cases of this happening.
So potential viewers of Housebound have an option: to watch and, perhaps, gain a new phobia like I did, or don’t watch and miss out on one of the better horror films out there.
GARRETT SMITH: Haunted house stories tend to have one central problem – why don’t the occupants just leave? This movie solves that problem by putting its protagonist on house arrest. So begins her descent into a mad house of fun.
Every time I thought I knew where this movie was going, it went somewhere entirely different and entirely weirder. And it is all the better for it. It starts at a slow pace, trying to build the haunting atmosphere a movie like this needs, and then suddenly pulls the ripcord on madness and takes off running into a strange, twisting tale with a great sense of humor.
This movie seemed to get lost in the shuffle of other great horror in 2014 like The Guest, It Follows, and The Babadook. But if I were programming a marathon of modern horror, all four films would be included and it would open with this movie. It’s wild, it’s fun, it’s funny; I bet it plays like gangbusters with a crowd. I definitely recommend this, you’ll have a good time.
JUSTIN HARLAN: I have to admit that comedy from Australia and New Zealand is oft lost on me, ie. I just don’t get What We Do in the Shadows (though Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a much different story). So, the descriptions I often see of this film as a horror comedy don’t really vibe with me. I don’t really get the comedy part of that label. The horror, on the otherhand… fuck me sideways!
This shit is scary, dude! It’s a very fun kind of scary, though. So, while the comedy did play a ton for me, I did find myself smiling and enjoying myself while also feeling the fear and tension. So, in the truest sense of the definition of comedy, a lighter story with a happy ending, I guess the label fits. No matter what the label is or isn’t, I can say that the film is a great time and a fun, fun ride.
Rima Te Wiata (Hunt for the Wilderpeople) and Morgana O’Reilly are both fantastic in their roles as mother and daughter. The other cast members are convincing and interesting, as well. Really can’t say anything negative about the film. It was a good one to end our Friday Frights on.