Homebound review – country trip goes very wrong, as does the film it’s in | Movies


Just like in many horror films that have come before, a trip to the countryside goes terribly awry in Sebastian Godwin’s feature debut. Taken to an imposing mansion on isolated land, Holly (Aisling Loftus) is nervous about meeting the mother and the children of her new husband Richard (Tom Goodman-Hill). To make matters worse, on their arrival Richard’s estranged ex-wife is nowhere to be found on the sprawling property. Meanwhile, the children begin to behave strangely: locked doors and the eerie rustling of trees hint at a frightening secret to which only the children have the key.

There is nothing wrong with reviving well-worn genre tropes, and Homebound’s setting does vaguely recall the pleasures of spooky British TV classics such as The Owl Service. Still, as the plot is fairly simple, the lack of visual style and attention, and consequent failure to craft a suspenseful atmosphere, is especially glaring. The soundscape is also a disappointment, oscillating between repetitive noise-making and screeching string music. The effort to evoke psychological unease entails simply having the children doing weird things, like burying a doll in the depth of the woods, and shooting them with such pedestrian nondescriptness that the characters might as well be drinking a glass of water.

Unsupported by the script, Goodman-Hill delivers the occasional flash of a good performance, as the film gradually evolves into a portrait of family trauma. Nevertheless, this is not enough to save Homebound: running a little bit over an hour, it feels like an underdeveloped short that has overstayed its welcome.

Homebound is released on 1 April in cinemas.

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