Aki Vs. Evil – Housebound

I don’t know what the situation is exactly currently, but after Lord of the Rings, there was a surge of movies, for better or worse, being made or simply worked on in New Zealand. This does also mean that there are now quite a few professionals, so they can do projects like this.

Spoilers abound.

Kylie is sentenced into a house arrest and placed under the care of her mother in her childhood home. Soon Kylie hears her mother on the radio discussing a haunting in her home. Kylie scoffs at the idea, but soon begins to experience weird occurences herself. After her stepfather lets it slip that the house might have a history Kylie was never told of, she finds out that she now lives in a former halfway house, where a brutal murder happened.

While I chose this movie to be the first movie from New Zealand to discuss on this series, but of the horror comedies from New Zealand I’ve seen (and there seems to be quite a few of them), this is closest to horror on the spectrum. I wouldn’t really be doing justice to the genre, if I didn’t get to the early Peter Jackson movies at some point, but I do also feel that I want to give a little bit visibility to these lesser known movies. Not that I can do much, nor is this really that obscure, but here’s a little bit of exposure for a seven year old movie.

The horror elements of the movie are played straight for the most part (I guess detaching a corkscrew from a dead body is kind of funny). The humor comes mostly from the antagonistic social interactions between various characters. While the actual murderer is quite far from our usual image of such people, his presence sort of makes the movie even more horrifying than if the murderer was something along the lines of Leatherface or Jason.

Kylie is pretty much locked in the house. Sure, she can leave, but her ankle bracelet will send out a signal if she does. Since no-one is going to take her story of a haunting seriously, she is unable to just move away. And since the murderer turns out to be her psychiatrist, the system that locked her away is also the major threat.

According to certain political philosophers, nations are all about monopolizing violence. I wish I could remember their names right now, so I could point you to them, but here we are. I read way too much, so I can’t remember everything. Anyhow, the governing bodies own the police, are able to imprison people and so forth. In this case, this particular murderer is given power over Kylie. Sure, the system doesnt actually want him to kill his patient, but at the same time, the fact that she is his patient makes her more vulnerable to him. He gains access to her home through his position.

And he is killing people gleefully. Not all people in these jobs are the same, but some of them do take the jobs simply because they enjoy having that power over others or are able to use that power over others to satisfy unhealthy needs. As a white man, I probably don’t even encounter this as much as many others do, but while I don’t really want to bring up the Nazis, I’m bringing up the Nazis. Not I would even need to. We’ve heard stories of ICE agents misusing their powers.

This is kind of a downer for a horror comedy, but roll with it. The movie is horror mixed with a weird mystery (which actually does feel more like a mystery than horror) and a comedy about a disfunctional family, which finds common ground in the end… actually even taking a new member, even if he had secretly been around for ages.

I do like how the movie manages to subvert expectations many times during the story. The nice, nerdy psychiatrist is the murderer, but also the old man next door with beartraps around his house is actually just someone interested in his privacy and the weird man living in the walls is just afraid of open spaces.

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