Horrorfest 2015 Presents: Housebound (2014, Gerard Johnstone)

Like many other twisty and novel horror movies Housebound isn’t easy to review. One has to avoid spoilers and yet still discuss the film in solid if not extensive detail. What I did note is how wonderfully funny this movie is, and how it only has a few actual scares. Which is fine considering the events that occur and how the movie at times mocks horror cliches and is savvy and well scripted. I do wish this movie had been frightening yet its high level of quality over compensates. Also the cast does a great job, too.

The film’s dynamic centers on the troubled relationship between Kylie and her mother, Miriam. Since Kylie is a regular offender she has been sentenced to house arrest, trapped in her mother’s house. Which may or may not be haunted. And which is next door to a potential murderer, too. If that’s not horror movie territory I don’t know what is, and Housebound mines it very well.

Also what I like is security contractor, Amos, who is both funny and a great foil for Kylie as she investigates what is really going on. There is a scene that is timely and utterly hilarious, not to mention a number of thrilling moments. Housebound despite its flaws is an excellent addition to the horror genre. New Zealand has contributed plenty to the genre and will hopefully continue to do so in the future.

Horrorfest 2015 Presents: What We Do In The Shadows (2015, Taika Waititi¬†and Jemaine Clement)

Just when you think the found footage/fake documentary style horror film has run its course there comes along another film that proves the doubters wrong. What We Do In The Shadows is one such film, and it is a hilarious entry in the sub genre that has recently been overwhelmed by Parnamormal Activity and it’s endless sequels. Lately Twilight has caused a good response in terms of some great vampire moves, so that’s good, I guess.

Living in an old house, hidden from society are a bunch of old vampires. What I love about this movie is that the jokes are well executed and range from slapstick to witty, often all in the same moment. The cast is top notch and each member adds to the funny proceedings. One of my favorite jokes is the bat fight scene, which is as amusing as it sounds. Although the last act wears a bit thin you have to laugh at Vlad going on and on about “The Beast.” Not to mention smile at the idea of werewolves and vampires talking smack to one another. Based on this and Housebound New Zealand horror has a very bright future indeed.

A Brood of Brainwashed Blood Thirsty Killers (Strange Behavior, 1981)

Note: This is a lost Horrorfest review that after some changes and editing I’m presenting to you horror fans:

As much a slasher movie as it is a sci-fi “Science gone amok” movie, the under rated cult film Strange Behavior is a rather odd, and thus stands out from its brethren. By the time of Strange Behavior’s release, slasher movies were a large part of the horror genre and 1980s was about to usher in the sub-genere’s heyday. Created a year after Halloween clone Friday the 13th, Strange Behavior has been somewhat forgotten, perhaps because of its weird plot. Or maybe the numerous slasher movies that followed left more of an impression upon viewers.

Having now seen way more 80s slasher movies since viewing this film, I now realize even more how unique and original this movie really is. Weird experiments taking place at a local college are resulting in the studies’ willing guinea pigs killing people at random. What it all really means is a mystery, however someone is maybe pulling the strings from behind the scenes.

The film’s dreamlike 80s pop style soundtrack, well executed by Tangerine Dream, only makes this movie feel and seem even more bizarre. However the film doesn’t seem to go far enough with its commentary on conformity and leaves behind the science implications in favor of gory yet well crafted terror inspiring moments that really fail to be scary if you have viewed a horror movie before.

What really sticks out in my mind is how the film ends-the last act is really quite unexpected. Considering that it was fairly well made and is clearly smarter than most of the slasher films that followed, Strange Behavior is a rare gem. I thank TCM for airing the movie when they did back in 2010, and I hope that more people get a chance to check out a most welcomed addition to the slasher genre. 82/100

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