In cinemas from April 1st and on digital from April 4th, Homebound is the feature film debut of writer/director Sebastian Godwin, a horror film that attempts to put an unsettling new spin on the familiar stepmother trope we’ve seen so many times before.
Recently married couple Richard (Tom Goodman-Hill) and Holly (Aisling Loftus) are travelling to the countryside home of Richard’s ex-wife Nina so that Holly can meet his three children, Anna (Raffiella Chapman), Lucia (Hattie Gotobed) and Ralph (Lukas Rolfe). When they arrive the place appears deserted, but a message from Anna on Richard’s phone informs him that she had to go somewhere and leave the kids alone for a while. Youngest daughter Anna soon appears and seems happy to see her father and his new friend, but when Lucia and Ralph show up they are the complete opposite, like moody teenagers but with a hint of something darker simmering just below the surface.
Richard is clearly overjoyed to be reunited with his children, even if he does appear completely unphased by the disappearance of their mother. Feeling hungry, Richard decides to rustle up a meal for them all. And when I say ‘rustle’, that involves him and the kids cornering one of the geese outside and slitting its throat and treating it like a game, much to the shock and disgust of onlooker Holly.
From then on, Homebound becomes a series of increasingly bizarre scenes where Holly seems to be the only sane one out of the group. Before they all tuck into the now cooked goose, Richard insists on proposing a toast, pouring out the vodka for all to drink, including the children, before then moving on to champagne and red wine! There are also some moments later where Lucia and Ralph are openly nasty towards Holly while Richard’s behaviour and reactions are just odd. And not even in an unsettling way either, it all just feels unrealistic and ridiculous.
Throughout everything, Aisling Loftus shines through and her performance as Holly is outstanding, especially considering the material she’s been given to work with. There are plenty of opportunities where Holly could have, and should have, got out of that place and left her husband there for the weekend. But for some bizarre reason, she decides sticks with it. Instead, she continues to uncover clues surrounding the disappearance of Nina, something we’ve already had our own clues about along the way, and something which turns out to have the most disappointing reveal and follow-up conclusion that I’ve seen in a long time.
A lot of other questions remain unanswered by the time the abrupt and frustrating ending comes. We learn nothing about Richard and Holly prior to their arrival at the house – their lives, how they met, what they do for jobs. There’s also no explanation regarding Richard’s odd behaviour or anything that has taken place in the house. I’m sure that the bizarre behaviour is there to put you on edge and unsettle you while the ominous horror movie soundtrack tries to add tension, but instead, the breezy 71-minute running time just ended up becoming a real chore to sit through, resulting in a disappointing conclusion.
Homebound is in cinemas 1st April and on digital 4th April from Blue Finch Film Releasing
Web developer by day, with a movie and TV watchlist that continues to grow as much as my spare time reduces! My favourite movie is Inception and, despite what everyone says, I do not have a man-crush on Tom Cruise.