Contrasting warm and idyllic visuals with a tone and tension which are anything but, ‘Homebound’ certainly makes an impact in is brief run-time, even if its destination can’t quite live up to the journey.
The film opens with a scene which more or less sets the tone from the get-go as a newlyweds Richard and Holly make their way to meet his kids for the first time. Understandably Holly is nervous, recognising that she’s going to be playing second fiddle as step-mum to 3 kids, but it’s also insinuated that there might be more to her vulnerability than just the typical anxiety. Upon reaching the country home, despite positive introductions, it’s not long before her social awkwardness and apprehension are perhaps more than warranted, albeit for not quite the right reasons.
The kids are, well frankly a little bit weird, friendly and typical one minute then unhinged and hostile the next, with their father (Holly’s new partner) never really reacting in a way that either exhibits surprise at such bizarre outburst, or support for Holly; this in addition to him having some odd standards such as letting them drink spirits at a kid’s birthday party! There are moments in the film, which taken alone would be potentially explained away as an odd turn of events, but as behaviours escalate and sanctions continue to go unissued its clear that there is something more going on behind the happy family façade. The films attention to detail on its characters, not just in the scripting, but also in its claustrophobic camera work, where tight shots effectively capture the nuance of character facial expressions and deliberate glances, all adds to the depth of the story and emphasises the un-ease between the characters.
That, and of course the not-so-subtle reminders that the mother of the children is still inexplicably absent from the reunion, but given the telegraphed destination this film heads for, the stories conclusion was always going to be the film’s weakest element as is often the case with slow-burn style horror which places far more emphasis on building tension than other more fashionable scare tactics.
That said, the journey is a good one and throughout the film all the cinematic and thematic elements really work well to develop and maintain a solid atmosphere, and whilst the setting and fashions are all very modern there is a definite ‘classic horror’ feel to it, with long, lingering shots of the gothic style home, and walled historic gardens really adding to its muted vibrance. Even when there’s not a lot happening exposition wise, there’s plenty going on from a visual perspective. Even the films focus on emotions such as paranoia over a more visceral approach sees the films character-centric approach offer up a very traditional feel.
Overall, ‘Homebound’ is a slickly produced and thoughtful effort, even if its conclusion is somewhat weaker compared to what comes before. The films tight editing and svelte runtime all help to give ‘Homebound’ a really pacy and polished feel. As I’ve hinted already, the film isn’t scary, but emanates instead a feeling of un-ease, and even though you will work out where the plot is heading quite a bit ahead of where the film drops the curtain, it’s an intriguing watch, nevertheless.