The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Cinema/VOD] - HOMEBOUND | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Cinema/VOD] - HOMEBOUND

homebound review
A woman uncovers a dark secret when she meets her new husband's children.

Review by Sue Finn

Directed by: Sebastian Godwin

Starring: Aisling Loftus, Tom Goodman-Hill, Hattie Gotobed, Raffiella Chapman, Lukas Rolfe

homebound poster

Newly secretly married Holly (Aisling Loftus) and Richard (Tom Goodman-Hill) are on their way to introduce her to the family he once shared with his ex-wife, and the tension in the car is palpable.

When Richard uses the term ‘step-mum’ to Holly, she visibly balks, but they bravely press ahead with the introductions.

It’s his pre-pubescent daughter Anna’s birthday (Raffiella Chapman) and they arrive at the house she lives at with her mum Nina in time to find the child alone.

We meet his other two children - recalcitrant Ralph (Lukas Rolfe) and sullen Lucia (Hattie Gotobed) - who are as standoffish as teenagers introduced to their dad’s new partner would be.

The family decides to crack on with the celebration despite Nina’s absence and launch into a rousing family game of ‘Chase the Geese’, intending to kill the poor creature once caught, while Holly looks on, suitably horrified.

homebound review

There’s something just not right about this family in their idyllic country home - dad shares shots with his underage kids as Holly’s protests go unheeded; even worse irresponsibility ensues as Richard allows his dog to eat chocolate off the floor with a dismissive “he’ll be fine”; and then the couple proceed to get fall down drunk and have breathy bedroom sex while the inebriated, creepy kids eavesdrop from the hallway.

The next thing you know, Anna is burying her dolls in the woods, Ralph is trying to drown Holly in the pool in a supposed game of ‘dunk’, and Lucia is skulking around spying on everybody.

Tensions heat up and questions are raised about where mum Nina really went? Dad reveals an even more maniacal side, and the kids have their allegiances challenged.

When the truth is finally revealed, and a finale is reached, it is all the more chilling for what is not shown.

homebound review

This is my kind of movie, small and intimate, unsettling with bursts of horror, a brisk runtime, well acted, and a fully realised time and place.

The performances here from the adults down to the children are all above average with Loftus as Holly giving an understated but completely expressive performance, and Gotobed as Lucia also wholly believable.

Written and directed by Sebastian Godwin in his feature-film debut, the script is underplayed and yet tells you just enough to keep you intrigued, showing just enough to keep you on the edge of your seat; you know something is coming, and the dread is well built.

The cinematography skilfully captures the bleak winterscape in which this is set, and the estate where it is filmed (including the surrounding grounds) is used to its full advantage and never feels stifling.

homebound review

The ending is a tad abrupt, but I can understand the effectiveness and the necessity of that; and though I love that it doesn’t overstay its welcome, it does need a little more time to really bring its ideas into fruition. It feels to me like it has more to say, but the economy of its runtime hinders its ability to fully articulate its themes.

Arguably there are better movies that use this kind of atmospheric familial dread - Ready or Not shares some similarities, and most recently The Lodge, which was criminally under-viewed in my opinion; but there is a place for this British ‘wife/stepmum lost in new-family peril’ subgenre horror film.

A little undercooked but still satisfying, I did enjoy this trip to the country!

Homebound is in UK cinemas from April 1st and on UK/ROI VOD from April 4th.

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