Following multiple run-ins with the law, insubordinate Kylie is ordered to home confinement for 8 months at her childhood home in the rural New Zealand countryside. We learn quickly that this is her worst nightmare given that she left home the moment she turned 18 to escape her oppressive mother. Worse, she has to wear an ankle monitor that prevents her from leaving the perimeter of the overgrown yard. Adding to the claustrophobia of home confinement is the home itself, a depressing, cluttered nightmare that abuts a forest replete with crooked trees and sprawling vegetation.
Nonplussed that her daughter is back home, Kylie’s always-cheerful, chatty mother fills the time with banal conversation including her belief that there is a ghost in the house. Kylie makes fun of her for this and takes every opportunity to denigrate her. Angry about her situation Kylie passes the time sitting on the couch, watching television, eating food and leaving a mess for her mother to clean up. Bored out of her mind, she eventually befriends Amos, the security officer in charge of monitoring her ankle bracelet, who happens to be interested in the paranormal. With little else to do Kylie agrees to investigate her mother’s claims of ghosts with Amos. Their investigation begins in the house but eventually focusses on a creepy recluse living next door.
‘Housebound’ could easily have been another generic “ghost story” however director Gerard Johnstone creates the perfect claustrophobic setting with the messy, gloomy home, the remote location, and the fact that the lead character has an ankle bracelet on so even if she tries to flee from ghosts the police will haul her back to meet her fate. The film has a good balance of tension and humor and the leads are likable/relatable.