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Film / Housebound

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Housebound is a 2014 New Zealand horror comedy film written and directed by Gerard Johnstone, about a woman who is sentenced to house arrest in her mother's home. Not long after moving back in, she starts to suspect that the house may be haunted by the spirit of a murder victim.

This work provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Their neighbor admits that he once beat his son with a tyre chain! Of course, he did catch the boy torturing a small animal... He's deeply remorseful about it though, as the boy disappeared and that was his last memory of him. It seems to have took, as when we finally meet his son, Eugene, he's too timid to hurt a fly.
  • Accidental Murder: Averted. Kylie stabs Graeme, thinking he was the neighbor, but he survives the injury.
  • Agent Mulder: Miriam and Amos both believe the house is haunted, Amos even volunteering to help find out what's going on in the hopes of finding proof of the supernatural.
  • Anti-Hero: Kylie, who starts the movie as a pretty severe Jerkass. She gets better, though.
  • Agent Scully: Kylie doesn't believe in ghosts, thinks anyone who does is stupid, and isn't shy about saying so.
  • Bear Trap: The suspicious neighbor booby-trapped his yard with one.
  • Bedsheet Ghost: Eugene.
  • Big Bad: Dennis is revealed to be responsible for Elizabeth's murder.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Kylie acts like this despite being in her twenties. She grows out of it.
  • Captain Ersatz: The robot teddy bear is one for Teddy Ruxpin.
  • Creepy Basement: The basement is full of life-size sculptures of saints. Human-shaped looming figures with overtones of bloody death? Thanks, those will cheer this basement right up.
  • Creepy Doll: The second scary scene involves Kylie being menaced by a knockoff Teddy Ruxpin doll with low batteries, giving it a horribly distorted voice. It gets even creepier after she throws it in the fireplace.
  • Curse Cut Short: Dennis's "F-" is cut off by explosive decapitation.
  • Dung Fu: At the climax, Kylie throws a chamber pot in Dennis' face.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After all the horror and bloodshed, Elizabeth's murderer is revealed and killed, Kylie becomes a better person and has grown closer to her mother and stepfather, Amos is still a family friend, Kylie is finally released from her house arrest and is free to get on with her life, and Eugene has become accepted as part of the family.
  • Gaslighting: What Dennis attempts to do with Kylie right before the climax.
  • Ghostly Goals: Amos suggests that Elizabeth's ghost is trying to help Kylie uncover her murder. Ultimately, he's almost right; it's just not Elizabeth's ghost who is doing it.
  • Haunted House: Kylie's family house is revealed to be a halfway-house where a young lady was murdered. Subverted when it turns out to be a madman living in the walls rather than a ghost responsible for all the unexplained happenings.
  • Idiot Savant: Eugene is a mechanical mastermind, but pretty much incapable of functioning in society.
  • Implicit Prison: Kylie is under house arrest in her parent's house. It's implied that this is more punishment than prison would be.
  • Innocent Bigot: Kylie's mother, who otherwise comes off as nice and likable, is surprised that one of the officers assigned to Kylie's case is so well-spoken, because she's Maori. Kylie gives her a mild What the Hell, Hero? for this, pointing out that the woman is obviously educated and works for the police department, so of course she's smart.
  • Insane Equals Violent: Deconstructed. In the backstory, it's established that Elizabeth was indeed mentally ill and had violent outbursts, but the most shocking act of violence in the backstory was perpetrated against her, not by her. Similiarly, we're lead to believe that she was killed by Idiot Savant Eugene, but The Reveal is that her real killer was Dennis, a completely sane man, and the villain of the film, and Eugene, though extremely mentally ill, is ultimately a Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold.
  • Ironic Death: Dennis is killed with a meat fork. He stabbed Elizabeth 47 times with a meat fork.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Kylie matures into this as the story goes on, but the heart of gold was always there, albeit buried deep, deep down. It's worth noting that the main reason she got caught and arrested in the first place is because she tried to bring her accomplice with her when he passed out, as opposed to simply leaving him there.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Was the hand that grabbed Kylie's ankle and handed her the carving fork Eugene? Despite him having been stabbed in an earlier scene? Or was it the ghost?
  • Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: It turns out that Eugene's creepy antics were attempts to warn Kylie about the danger she was in.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Two examples. Eugene and Dennis, who are stabbed in the back and fall off a roof, respectively. Dennis punches Kylie out and starts strangling her mum, and the last scene shows that Eugene lived as well.
  • Police Are Useless: Averted by Amos (technically a private security contractor, and not a cop, but close enough for the purposes of this trope), despite his enthusiasm for the paranormal. He genuinely cares about the family, and gladly helps Miriam survey the house when she admits she thinks it's haunted. He also, somewhat reluctantly, helps Kylie with her murder investigation, and looks the other way when she bends the rules to do it.
  • "Rear Window" Investigation: Kylie suspects her neighbor of having killed the girl who was living in her house when it was a halfway house. She even sneaks over to verify it.
  • Say My Name: The film ends with an exasperated Kylie shrieking, "EUGEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEENE!" before it cuts to the credits.
  • Secret Squatter: Kylie's mother's house used to be a halfway house where a girl was once murdered. After a series of unexplained events, the protagonists believe the house is either haunted by the girl's ghost or secretly inhabited by her very alive killer. It's neither. The man in the walls, Eugene, is a severe recluse hiding from his abusive father, and he's been trying to help Kylie find the real killer. Unusually for this trope, once Eugene helps save the family, they are happy to have him continue living in the walls.
  • Stalker without a Crush: It's revealed Eugene has been spying on the family and drawing scenes of them, Kylie in particular, for years. However, his motive seems to be more loneliness and curiosity than anything, and he behaves more like an Annoying Younger Sibling than anything... despite being at least a couple decades older than her.
  • Tentative Light: The lights frequently flicker or shut off. Subverted, when we learn that Eugene is living in the walls and mooching electricity.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Inverted. Kyle's stepfather Graeme is a quiet but perfectly nice fellow — it's Kylie that's awful. Despite this, he does care a lot about her, and they slowly get better.
  • Worst Aid: Kylie's response to stabbing Graeme with a set of garden shears is to pull them out, provoking more bleeding.
  • Your Head Asplode: A carving fork through the jaw doesn't kill Dennis, but that same fork hooked up to a car battery sure does.