Monday, August 10, 2015

Housebound (2014) - No More Excuses, Here's A Review!

Yeah, it's been a while.

Real life gets busy.  I have a fun job that keeps me busy and other writing projects that claimed a higher priority.  But I always have a soft spot for this blog and I always said when I return to it, I'd write a review about the phenomenal movie, Housebound.

So here it is.

Housebound is fantastic.  See it as soon as possible.

There you go.

OK, I kid, I kid, but that first sentence really sums up my experience with the movie.  I gush about this New Zealand offering to everyone that will put up with my ramblings.  It really is that good in my book.  If you have Netflix streaming, you can watch it right this second.  If you're able to do that, why are you reading my blog?  Go enjoy yourself then come back and read the review!

Now that you're back, or if you'd rather read this first, let's move on with the write-up.  Housebound comes to us from New Zealand writer and director Gerard Johnstone in his directorial debut.  If you've read my blog before, you know a couple things:  one, I try not to put in spoilers especially if they're integral to the plot and two, I like movies that have a kind of lively energy.  Bearing those points in mind, I'll provide a short summary without spoilers and I'll begin by saying Johnstone's film crackles with lively energy.

It's the story of a less-than-social petty criminal named Kylie (Morgana O'Reilly) who is placed under house arrest in her childhood home.  Her mother, Miriam (Rima Te Wiata) and her stepfather Graeme (Ross Harper) still live there.  Miriam believes the house is haunted and strange things do indeed happen.  Amos (Glen-Paul Waru) is a police officer assigned to Kylie and is intrigued enough that he wants to help, citing his fascination with the paranormal.  Kylie's social worker, Dennis (Cameron Rhodes) remains skeptical.  Kylie becomes increasingly convinced something is haunting the house and with Amos' help, begins to uncover clues about the house's sordid past.  At this point, I can't go on without spoiling the movie even a little bit and this is one I would hate to spoil.

Needless to say, everything about this movie clicks.  O'Reilly is phenomenal as the tough girl who truly loves her family and loves a mystery almost as much.  Each character stands out, bringing a piece to the story.  The story itself bobs and weaves like a boxer, hitting you with comedy on one side and tense suspense on the other.  The comedy works so well because of how it's presented:  we may be laughing at what's happening but the characters are terrified.  The movie is meant to be funny but it's not forced.  It's really a true balance between horror and comedy with great amounts of mystery thrown in.

After the movie ended, I immediately went on Amazon and ordered the Blu-ray.

For me, Housebound is the best horror movie I've seen this year so far, sharing a top spot with - oddly enough - another horror-themed comedy (What We Do In The Shadows).  I enjoy all sorts of movies and all sorts of horror subgenres, but I always enjoy an incredibly well-made film that is just plain fun.

And now, as per usual, here's the trailer:

Monday, February 23, 2015

Capsule Reviews Because I Got Lazy...Again

Yeah, I know.

I've got to be better with this thing.  I go through prolific streaks and dry spells, so chalk this most recent "sabbatical" (read: laziness) as a "dry spell."

In the meantime, I've seen a few movies.  Well, more than a few.  Some good, a couple great, and a stinker here and there.  I'm going to get to the capsule review in a moment, but let me first wish everyone a VERY belated Happy New Year.  Not a lot of changes here at the WGON Helicopter just yet, but I'm going to make a few as the year rolls on.  I'll be changing the look of the place, I'll be doing more interviews as they arise, I'm going to not be as dry in my "tone," and I'll bring some special features back as well as introduce new ones like something about re-watching movies.  Haven't decided what I'll call it yet but the year's still young.

So let's get to the movies, shall we?

Contracted - High hopes for this movie but low returns, in my opinion.  Look, I love swiss cheese but I don't need that many holes in my films.  The premise is great:  girl has drugged sex with a random guy who is definitely hiding something.  As time progresses, she becomes sicker and sicker in ways that will make you gag.  Interesting take on the zombie genre that just had too many moments of "wait, would someone actually do that?"  Lots of poor decision-making by the characters (despite some decent acting) that lead to several head-shakes.

The Damned - Not the 70's and 80's horror punk/new wave band, but an atmospheric and interesting movie that provides a decent feeling of dread.  A family (headed by Peter Facinelli - I know, I know he's in that sparkly vampire movie series but he was also outstanding in Can't Hardly Wait so it balances out) and some friends are stranded during a flood in Colombia.  They hole up in a closed hotel with two residents, one of which is a young girl trapped in a box in the basement.  What follows is possession, mayhem, and family drama.  It wasn't horrible but also not great.

Housebound - I'm going to take a second here and proclaim that I will save this movie for a full review.  This movie and I have become best friends.

The Remaining - This is what happens when I don't do my research.  I thought this might be a new foray into survival horror.  What was a promising premise - a group of friends try to survive after the Rapture - descends quickly into heavy-handed preaching.  All it needed was for Kirk Cameron to show up and lecture us about something.  Fortunately, he didn't and that was a plus.  Also, the effects were kind of neat.

ABC's Of Death 2 - The first movie pushed some uncomfortable boundaries (L is for Libido), had some serious WTF moments (F is for Fart), and some incredible short films packed with goodness (D is for Dogfight).  The second entry seemed more solid to me.  Once again, the 26 (and a half, if you count the end credits scene) short films for each letter of the alphabet ranged in taste, style, humor, gore, and creepiness.  Also, I'm a big Mighty Boosh fan, so it was good seeing Julian Barrett have an entry.  Highlights:  A is for Amateur, G is for Grandad, K is for Knell, M is for Masticate, R is for Roulette, W is for Wish.  X is for Xylophone will make you squirm.  S is for P-P-P-P SCARY! is an absolute WTF head trip.

The Taking of Deborah Logan - Soap opera veteran Jill Larson turns in a stunning performance as an Alzheimer's patient that may be suffering from possession in this very good found footage film.  It was tense with its scares providing quality over quantity; each scare means something and didn't feel forced. An interesting mystery as well, it was a pleasant surprise while touching on a sensitive subject.  You honestly feel for Deborah and her family as something takes her over.

Dead Snow 2:  Red vs. Dead - The first Dead Snow was kinetic craziness in the vein of Raimi's Evil Dead movies.  Tommy Wirkola continues the madness as the lone survivor from the first film is "reunited" with the undead Nazi commander in a hilarious way.  I mean "reunited" quite literally.  The character enlists the help of American zombie hunters (led by Martin Starr of Freaks and Geeks) and long-buried Soviet troops with a literal bone to pick with the Nazis.  Insane fun that doesn't stop with cringe-worthy moments.

The Purge:  Anarchy - I wasn't the biggest fan of the first one.  I don't know.  Good premise but it just didn't catch me.  Maybe I more disappointed than anything.  The sequel, however, was more solid in my eyes.  The Purge Night is back but the viewer gets to follow several characters who eventually come together to try and survive the night, with only one being out willingly to avenge the accidental death of his son.  We get more of a peek into this alternate reality and I found it more interesting.

The Canal - This taut little Irish flick follows a man who discovers his beloved wife is having an affair.  When she goes missing, he's the prime suspect but is convinced there is something evil in his house.  Did he do it?  Is he innocent?  Is there really something in his house?  Everything keeps you guessing in this pretty good mystery.

The Atticus Institute - A modern mockumentary about a 1970's scientist (played by the underrated William Mapother) who tries to harness the thing possessing a woman.  When the U.S. Army steps in to try and weaponize the woman and the force inside her, things don't end well.  It's a well-made look at what may or may not have been a real thing back in the old Cold War days.  Quite scary in parts and interesting, I really enjoyed it.

Well, there you go for what it's worth.  My thoughts on a wide range of movies.  I saw several more but I thought I'd start with these.  I will get to a full review of Housebound next because I honestly can't say enough good about that movie.

Until next time, watch the skies!