Housebound (Blu-ray Review)

HouseboundKylie Bucknell is forced to return to the house she grew up in when the court places her on home detention. Her punishment is made all the more unbearable by the fact she has to live there with her mother Miriam – a well-intentioned blabbermouth who’s convinced that the house is haunted. Kylie dismisses Miriam’s superstitions as nothing more than a distraction from a life occupied by boiled vegetables & small-town gossip. However, when she too becomes privy to unsettling whispers & strange bumps in the night, she begins to wonder whether she’s inherited her overactive imagination, or if the house is in fact possessed by a hostile spirit who’s not particularly thrilled about her return.  



Housebound is a film I knew nothing about going in. I received the PR release and thought why I not? It also has an enthusiastic plug from Peter Jackson, so it can’t be all that bad, right? Well, I guess it depends on whom you ask. Housebound is the story of young Kylie (Morgana O’Reilley), a troubled youth who has been in and out of juvenile detention and actual jail, because she can’t seem to stay out of trouble. Her latest adventure in breaking the law was a bungled ATM machine robbery. Seeing as how she got a decent lawyer to represent her (not bad for a public defender) the most forgiving judge has ordered Kylie to spend the next 8 months under house arrest at her home, with her mother. Deep down inside Kylie would rather do the time, because she’ll now be back to the place she was running from to begin with. Oh joy.

Miriam (Rima Te Wiati), Kylie’s mother, is a bit aloof and speaks and acts with a bit of naive simpleness. I guess she’s too uncool for school in Kylie’s eyes. Their home is a bit of an old rustic house out in the middle of nowhere located near a popular highway where tourists tend to drive thru, which makes Miriam want to open a bed and breakfast much to Kylie’s dismay. As Kylie settles down into her new-old residence for the next 8 months – strange occurrences begin to take hold of the old home. Strange noises begin to creep about the old pipes and inside the walls. It’s as if the house is coming to life. Adding creepiness to the whole mix is Miriam already thinking that the house is haunted and trying to convince Kylie that it is haunted. Kylie is of course a hardened criminal and doesn’t believe in haunted houses or ghosts. That is, until she starts witnessing some strange happenings of her own.

Housebound was a lot of fun if I do say so myself and I do say so. It has the perfect blend of horror/thriller/comedy, because some of the scenarios, as grim as they are, made me laugh. What also helps the overall tone of the film is that writer-director-editor Gerard Johnstone has created a really cool and competent looking film. I don’t know how much the film cost t make but it has some great production values. One of the things I sort of dreaded in watching Housebound was the potential dislike I was going to have for our lead character in that she’s very unlikable and it’s really hard for me to like characters who start off as jerks and remain jerks until the end of the film, with absolutely zero redemption. I was burned this way when I watched Attack the Block a few years ago. I thought it was going to be the same here and am happy to say that Kylie rocked!

The rest of the cast members also did a great job in being quirky and weird and it added to the overall sense of dread, because if you’re a bit simpleminded you won’t really know how to react to ghosts running amuck. Stuff like that gave it a slight edge over the norm. Housebound does contain plenty of delicious gore and it doesn’t hold back. This Blu-ray edition is NOT RATED, so be warned. Housebound clocks in at just 2 hours, which is a bit long considering it’s a haunted house flick, but I do think that running gives the film lots of depth and you’ll need once backstories and flashbacks are factored in there.

If you’re looking for a bit of splatter in your house then I highly recommend Housebound on Blu-ray. I believe (for now, at least) the Blu-ray version of the film will be an Amazon exclusive. For how long, I don’t know. It’s highly recommended. I will say that if you’re into the Evil Dead franchise and early Peter Jackson horror flicks then Housebound will be right up your alley in terms of taste. Hell, even if you’re into Edgar Wright films, you’ll get out kick out of this one. Housebound is rife with spirit. No pun intended.



Encoding: AVC MPEG-4

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Clarity/Detail: From the opening prologue to the closing shot of the film this Blu-ray is freakin’ gorgeous! Contrast and sharpness levels are natural and I didn’t notice any sign of postproduction tinkering. Granted, I’m sure there was, but it was done to enhance the overall look and not just to make it look shiny. No lens flares were harmed in the making of Housebound. 

Depth: I love low light in real life and seeing a film that is also low-lit is a great thing. It makes the house look warm and inviting. The Blu-ray handles this in a superb and refined fashion. It’s a classy presentation.

Black Levels: The film takes place primarily at night, even the beginning of the film, and the darkness looked great. I did not notice any instance of crush or compression. The darkness levels win on this Blu-ray.

Color Reproduction: Housebound has a very muted palette and even more so indoors. I didn’t notice any banding or pixilation either. It’s a very limited rainbow but what you get is epic in terms of richness and vibrancy.

Flesh Tones: Flesh tones looked great and everyone appeared to be in healthful spirits. Pun intended.

Noise/Artifacts: Not a single artifact, debris, dirt speckle was found, and I know that they shot this on the digital side of things.




Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD MA 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: I don’t believe in haunted houses but I know that if I visited or stayed in one like this it would freak me out. What does that have to do with the dynamics? Well, the sound design from Housebound was transmuted over to my place. I watched this by myself, it was cold (for once in L.A.), and it rained a bit. The conditions were perfect for this sort of thing and boy did the sound design just clobber me all over. It’s a very aggressive presentation without being grating or over the top in its design. It really was a reference track all the way!

Low Frequency Extension: The subwoofer kept jumping up and down, which is funny, because subwoofers are the paperweights of the home theater. They sit there and rumble. Well, the LFE certainly rumbled about and they also jumped about. All of this was done without any hints of distortion or rattle.

Surround Sound Presentation: The true highlight of the sound design would have to be the scary crap in the background. Footsteps, hushed voices, creaking, etc., were presented in great and realistic detail in the rears. It was also a very balance presentation back there as none of what was going on in the rear channels bled through into the rest of the sound stage.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue was clean, crisp, and coherent. Yes, even with everyone’s native New Zealand accents, the center channel brought it all to very realistic life.




The extras on this Blu-ray are light but the audio commentary is great. Deleted scenes are presented in high definition and a theatrical trailer rounds out the supplements.

  • Commentary by the Filmmakers – A very cool and fun romp of the commentary featuring writer-director-editor Gerard Johnstone and a couple of producers. If you’re a film student or aspiring filmmaker this is some required listening. Did I mention that Housebound only cost $350,000 New Zealand dollars? Exactly.
  • Deleted Scenes (HD,) – Here are two deleted scenes that run just under 4-minutes total. They were removed for pacing purposes and I agree with their removal.
  • Trailer (HD) – The Housebound theatrical trailer is presented in high definition.





 Housebound was awesome and it was great watching it on Halloween! Yeah, it may be November 1st now, but this can also go great any day of the week. The Blu-ray technical specifications are phenomenal and the special features are more than adequate for what this is. The audio commentary is great. This Blu-ray and DVD are released on November 18th but I believe you can watch this via your VOD provider. Housebound on Blu-ray is very highly recommended!



Order Housebound on Blu-ray!



Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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