Ah, yes, you can always trust the New Zealanders to do the right thing. Housebound is one of those rare events; a comedy horror movie which actually delivers on all fronts. We start off at a bank, where our star Kylie and her boyfriend are failing miserably to rob an ATM. The court later sentences her to 8 months home detention. And so she arrives home to her Mother’s house far out from her city life. As it happens the security guard, Amos, (Glen-Paul Waruto) monitor her is a local, something that proves useful.   As she begins to settle in, or not settle in she also has to talk with Denis, her court appointed counsellor , yet another annoyance.   One of her biggest annoyances is her mother Miriam (Rima Te Wiata, Sons and Daughters, 1982) Miriam runs an ordered house along with her second husband, Graeme (Ross Harper, The devil Dared me to, 2007) and both “lazy” daughter and “uptight “ mother are having to come to terms with each other.

In to this mix is her mother’s belief that the house is haunted, she accepts this as a fact and is not too bothered by it, by standards. Kylie is having none of this nonsense, or at least nothing until she notices some strange sounds and happenings. Through the usual disasters Amos is brought in and together they eventually go ghost hunting.

What they find is a mystery which might involve a young girl who died many years ago when the house was a care-home, maybe she is the disturbance, or is it the strange boy/man who used to live next door, the same boy nobody has seen for over 10 years.

Kylie is now convinced there is something in the house, there is, and on one particular night when Denis and her doctor are present, there is an attack, Denis is injured and taken away to hospital.

Kylie and Amos try to find out what happened, as they do the mystery deepens – but here is the important part, never overly darkens.

This is not a big movie with a huge story line, loads of sets and special effects, no it is a simple ghost story type movie told well and with a sense of humour. The sense of humour is important, it is excellently carried through without changing the essential nature of the movie or taking away from the suspense.

I’m deliberately not giving too much away. The cast is typically understated and calm as is with many of the ANZAC offerings, the suspense works and the story never gives too much away before it needs to. You will sit down and enjoy this film. It is good old-fashioned fun, with perhaps a subtle message about appreciating what we have and not rushing to judgement.

7/10 purely because it kept me entertained without having to get too bloody or too silly.

The Woman In Black

If this movie had a school report it would say “doing well, but could do better”. There is nothing wrong with this movie, per se, other than it just does not fully live up to its potential. The director, James Watkins (Eden Lake, 2008, personally a disappointing film) works well to create a sense of atmosphere and overall the movie works visually.

The opening credits show Hammer’s involvement and all of us above a certain age will remember the almost kitsch productions, which, despite the advances of time still stand as cult classics. Was TWIB a victim of this expectation? I don’t think so.  There was much to the sense of expectation and by-and-large the movie meets the requirement in that it does manage suspense, even if it is well sign-posted by Beltrami’s score. The greatest weakness might have been Jane Goldman’s actual screenplay based on Susan Hill’s original novel.

Our young hero is a grieving young lawyer who is still missing his wife (and mother of his four year old son) and is struggling to keep his job and life together. He is sent by his employer to this out of the way location to work om substantial paper-work from the deceased’s estate to redeem his status and keep his job. Watching this I could not but remember a certain other story by a Mr B. Stoker (think fangs and mirrors) with his hero being a young lawyer sent to dark corners of Europe.

Our hero soon learns of what has been happening to the children of the village and the part his dead client’s family have played in this.  His time alone in the house allows him to piece together the history and to try to bring closure to the suffering.

All of the central characters and clichés expected in a thriller/horror/ghost story are all present. The scenery is dark, damp and gloomy  with the aptly eerie home of the deceased widow out on its own away from the local village. Rather than being up the side of a cliff in a dark valley, it is on its own island on the coast where it is only accessible during the low tides. We see the locals banding together against the new blow-in (queue the “Mob”) only for the local squire (Ciarán hinds)  to have to stand up to them. The scenery is reminiscent of something you would expect in Hounds of the Baskervilles. Ms Shelly would have liked the Gothic sense there is to the film.

Originality aside, the movie progresses well and the cast do their best with what is on offer.  To Mr Radcliffe’s credit he has moved out of his Harry Potter persona. The screenplay works to hold back the movie from losing control of itself.  If you liked Drag Me to Hell (Sam Raimi, 2009) then you should like this. If you like the old fashioned ghost story which makes you jump with fright rather than recoil in horror (at the piles of body parts), then you should enjoy it.

Rating a steady 5/10  unlike some others it did not send me to sleep and it kept its sense of perspective but some additional sense of drama and originality would have helped raise this film to a greater level.