Housebound: after robbing an ATM machine Kylie Bucknell is sentenced to house arrest for eight months, but her old family home appears to be haunted. All of the setup, ‘paranormal‘ and ‘haunting‘ stuff absolute dynamite; but has the side-effect that the murder mystery in the second half feels a touch inferior – although it’s still wildly entertaining. Branded as a “Horror Comedy” I’d argue that it’s more a black comedy that is set in a haunted house – although this isn’t a bawdy spoof. The comedy writing and delivery is outstanding (in a NZ deadpan way) with a lot of great genre and trope gags that create a fun and off-kilter tone where even things like a juvenile delivery of “do they?” sends you properly ROFLing. The rickety house setting is reminiscent of Braindead (aka Dead Alive), but Housebound doesn’t lean on – or borrow from – it much, with only a few splashes of gore, and its eye firmly on the comedy prize. Housebound is a fantastic directorial debut: the story’s well told, it looks great, but most importantly – it’s really really funny, letting it stand proudly alongside Tucker and Dale Vs Evil and Cabin in the Woods. Believe the hype.
Coraline: didn’t really know what this was supposed to be about; escapism? nightmares? drug use? Visually, the film’s interesting – a mix of stop motion & CGI, and because the overall effect is quite Burton-esque goths and pseudo goths will worship this for years to come. Visual merits aside, everything else about this was terrible. Both the story that takes place and general premise are absolutely mental. It feels like a bunch of OK scenes forced together, rendering a potentially strong story disjointed, boring, pointless and ridiculous. Most of the voice acting is annoying, especially the eternally grating Dakota Fanning (Coraline the character and voice). Her dad looks like an Adrien Brodie caricature. The final product would appeal to such a narrow market; far too scary for young kids and too ridiculous / boring for adults – leaving a tiny slice of angsty teens. Personally, I’d stick to Mirrormask or the original Alice in Wonderland. Totally forgettable, but it did look good in HD
Zombieland: the latest ‘Zom-Com’ pushing the genre further into the mainstream, follows a small band of survivors two months after a zombie outbreak. There’s thirty-odd ‘rules to survival’ although you only hear about six, which is a bit pants. The four humans carry the film well, and the chemistry between them is believable; Eisenberg plays a Michael Cera typecast and Woody Harrelson nails one of the coolest characters in recent cinema history. It does go some longish spells without zombies and there aren’t that many in general, but the script and humour keep things rolling despite the story never really going forward. There’s some great and graphic gore throughout and the slow-mo blood-drenched credits are brilliant. The 15 minute cameo spent massaging BM’s ego was nothing more than filler. It’s really enjoyable and will have finished before you know it. Top drawer zombie/road movie.