Finally. FINALLY. I have been waiting all year for horror films I could get excited about, but at last here are two that I thoroughly enjoyed. Don’t get me wrong—there have been a few pretty decent ones in 2014 (like Oculus, Horns, and Honeymoon), but nothing that really made the horror genre fresh and interesting again (at least in my humble opinion). Then, I got the opportunity to rent a pair of films that have been creating all kinds of positive buzz. I am all too happy to add to some of that buzz. That said, it’s time to sing a spooky little duet.
Synopsis: “A would-be thief is remanded to the custody of her estranged mother, who turns out to be correct in her assertion that evil spirits are afoot in their family domicile.” –Borrowed from Google because IMDb’s description was crazy long (but you can see it here if you like)
The High Notes:
- The humor. Not only are good horrors hard to come by lately, but good horror-comedies are particularly rare. Fortunately, this film delivers with so many funny moments. I won’t even try to count the number of times this wacky film cleverly surprised a laugh out of me. No doubt about it—it’ll leave you grinning.
- The characters. First of all, I love that Kylie (Morgana O’Reilly) is such a badass. In fact, I like her so much that she might have just earned a spot on my Top 10 Horror Movie Heroines list. She proves that she can take care of herself in this film. I’m also pretty fond Amos (Glen-Paul Waru), who starts out as simply the guy who straps on Kylie’s house arrest ankle bracelet, but he becomes a trusted friend. His passion for the paranormal is infectious, and he’s a good influence on Kylie. There’s also Kylie’s hilarious, gossipy mother (Rima Te Wiata) and her sweet, quiet stepfather (Ross Harper), who are both great. And there’s one more character, Eugene (Ryan Lampp), who is just…perfect. But I don’t want to talk about him too much—he should be a surprise.
- It’s funny, but still creepy. Ultimately, Housebound may be more humorous than scary, but it definitely doesn’t forget to provide an eerie atmosphere and some solid jump-scares, not to mention a classic killer-in-the-house sequence. Horror and comedy come together pretty seamlessly.
The Low Notes:
- You might not like Kylie for awhile. At first, she is a brat to the extreme—almost to an unbelievable degree for a grown woman. She redeems herself big time, but for the first 30-45 minutes, her gruff, apathetic demeanor may rub you the wrong way.
- You don’t get to see much of the aftermath. Given how this film ends, I really would’ve loved to see something more. It’s all just a little too abrupt.
- There’s a character introduced in the last 30 minutes or so of the film, and you’ll probably wish you’d been able to see more of him. He’s a big mystery, but once you finally understand who he is, he’s fascinating. If only we had a scene or two more with him…
The Staccato Version: With lots of delightful humor and some nice spooky stuff, too, Housebound makes for a great deal of fun. The characters are likable, the story is interesting, and the film as a whole is just so very watchable. Honestly, this is one of my favorite horror-comedies in recent memory. If you consider yourself a fan of the genre, I’d definitely recommend giving it a go.
My Grade: B+
Synopsis: “A single mother plagued by the violent death of her husband battles with her son’s fear of a monster lurking in the house, but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her.” –www.imdb.com
The High Notes:
- The nonstop scares. I was tense almost the whole time I was watching The Babadook because the film is relentlessly creepy—which I mean in the best possible way, of course. And what I like about the scares is that they aren’t limited to the supernatural. Sometimes, humans can be just as scary as or even scarier than ghosts and demons, and this film proves it.
- Essie Davis as stressed mother Amelia. The character goes through some stuff in this film, to say the least, and Davis takes us through it all brilliantly. Some of Amelia’s behavior is questionable, but even so Davis instills her with an undeniable likability. She’s easy to root for.
- MISTER BABADOOK. This is by far one of the creepiest creatures I have ever encountered in a horror movie. That hat…those claws…that gnarly face…and that BOOK. Did you know that horrifying book is actually available for pre-order?? At US $80, the price is a little steep, but I enjoyed the film so much and it looks so cool that I’m tempted to buy it…and then lose several hours of sleep being terrified, but whatever. Anyway, the point is that Mister Babadook is beyond scary.
The Low Notes:
- The rushed ending. Unfortunately, this is another case of the end not being a perfect wrap-up for the rest of the film. It’s a pretty wild finale, but then the last scene still leaves a lot of unanswered questions, which leads me to…
- The abrupt return to normality. After all the craziness that Amelia and her son, Samuel (Noah Wiseman) go through, there’s a drastic shift back to everything being just fine and dandy…mostly. There’s still enough of an edge to the end that it doesn’t feel cheap, but I still don’t know if I’m 100% satisfied.
- Though we get lots of deliciously creepy glimpses of Mister Babadook, we never get a really good look. I’m kind of torn on this—I usually like when scary creatures are largely a mystery, so to a certain degree I enjoyed not seeing much of him. But Mister Babadook is so freaking cool that I actually wouldn’t have minded seeing more of him.
The Staccato Version: Last year, I mentioned The Conjuring as the horror film that restored my faith in the genre. This year, that film is undoubtedly The Babadook. It is beyond creepy, it features some great performances, and it has a solid, surprisingly moving story. And MISTER FREAKING BABADOOK. I cannot stress him enough. If you’re a horror fan, The Babadook is this year’s must-watch.
My Grade: A-