Director: Gerard Johnstone
Starring: Morgana O'Reilly, Rima Te Wiata, and Glen-Paul Waru
Running Time: 107 min
I've been scanning a number of lists and this film keeps popping up. This is the first feature film from writer/director Gerard Johnstone, who was one of the creators/writer/director/etc for the very funny New Zealand show "The Jaquie Brown Diaries", so it will be interesting to see how well he transitions from television to cinema and comedy to horror.../comedy.
After a very amusing botched job, attempting to rob an ATM machine, Kylie Bucknell is sentenced to house arrest and sent back home to her mother's. She has to stay with her mom, Miriam and her mom's boyfriend, Graeme for the next 8 months. Kylie is not impressed with this situation and shows her disdain to being there by acting like a petulant child and a thorn in everybody's side or bottoms. How fun.
One night while listening to a talk show about ghosts on the radio, she recognizes her mother's voice talking about how she thinks there may be specters living in their house. Kylie leaves the room to give her mom a hard time about the radio show but Miriam reminds her that she is not the only one, who believed that there were ghosts in the house and Kylie reminds her mom that she is not 12 years old anymore.
However, after a number of weird occurrences, like a talking toy bear attacking her, phones getting lost and a creepy hand grabbing her in the basement, she slowly starts believing that the house may indeed be haunted. What puts her over is that she finds out that a teenage girl was murdered in her room and the case was never solved. Is Kylie and her family being haunted by this teenage ghosty and is there any way that she can be convinced to break on through to the other side or is Kylie having a slow mental breakdown and it's just her imagination?
This movie is incredible and I can see why it's on so many top lists. It's smart, it's funny and best of all it's pretty scary. Writer/ Director Gerard Johnstone takes elements from so many good movies from the past and fuses them into this roller coaster ride of laughs and genuine scares. Did I just say roller coaster ride, fuck me. This movie has so many good twists and change ups and it is good to see likeable characters that have motivation and seem real, which is a nice change to see.
Morgana O'Reilly (Rebecca 2, We Feel Fine) is perfect in this as Kylie. She doesn't even have to speak, but can convey her contempt for the system and her predicament with just a sneer. She is a tough character, but is likeable and knows when she has gone to far and O'Reilly is able to put these emotions across really well. My favourite character is Kylie's mom, Miriam, played by Rima Te Wiata (Send a Gorilla, Alex). She is the perfect comic relief and has the most brilliant timing. She nails the dotty, simple mom to a tee with just the right gestures and looks of disappointment and concern.
Also the music is perfect for the film. Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper creates a stunning soundtrack to this film. There is a part at the end that has similar look to a scene in "Hellraiser" and the music is very similar. It's a nice homage.
The only issue that I had with the film is there is a bit at the end, which is a little confusing. I don't want give anything away but I thought a character had died but he/she ends up being okay which I was surprised by, considering how they died or I thought they died. That's the only part the threw me.
Other than that, I really enjoyed this film and after seeing it, there is nothing else Gerard Johnstone or the cast could have done to make it any better.
This is an outstanding film and a must see for anyone, whether they love horror or not. It has an amazing story with some great plot twists and turns, the acting is fantastic and it gets very scary. So, if you looking for a great haunted house thriller or just a really great film, go see this! It's amazing!