DIRECTOR: Sebastian Godwin

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

RUNNING TIME: 71 mins

CERTIFICATE: 15

BASICALLY…: A father (Goodman-Hill) introduces his new wife (Loftus) to his children (Gotobed, Chapman and Rolfe), who have a sinister reaction to their new stepmother…

NOW FOR THE REVIEW…

Like a lot of first-time feature filmmakers, writer and director Sebastian Godwin started out with shorts, with at least four such credits to his name before tackling the big world of features. However, upon seeing his feature debut Homebound, it is clear that he has not made the complete transition from shorts, seeing how the film not only clocks in at just over an hour (not including end credits), but also feels about as underdeveloped and inconsequential as a short film which, unlike proper features, don’t have enough time to expand on some of their ideas.

Homebound is about a trip taken by Holly (Aisling Loftus) and her new husband Richard (Tom Goodman-Hill) to his remote home in the isolated countryside, where he intends on introducing her to his children from a previous marriage. Upon arrival, Holly is almost immediately taken aback by Richard’s children Ralph (Lukas Rolfe), Lucia (Hattie Gotobed) and Anna (Raffiella Chapman), who very clearly want nothing to do with their new stepmother, and set in motion a getaway weekend that is almost bound to end horrifically.

That’s really all there is to it, by the way. The plot is as simple and straightforward as, well, a short film, and does not offer any deviations from the set path you may expect to uneasily stroll down. You go in expecting a horror movie with creepy, probably murderous kids, and you’ll get almost exactly what it says on the tine. The problem is, even for something that has such a basic set-up and outline, the movie still finds impressive ways to make almost no sense from the start, with bad decision after bad decision made by its appallingly stupid characters starting to pile on top of one another until the frustration is too much to take.

Godwin’s script is so thin on logic that you can poke holes through it with your index finger, led by the dumbest lead character in a horror movie for quite some time, who is apparently so stupid that she is unable to pick up on any of the red flags waving right in her face until it’s conveniently too late to make a run for it. Aisling Loftus’s Holly is a person who will willingly shack up at this creepy old countryside house with her new husband and his kids, none of whom are even attempting to hide the fact that they’re all a bunch of psychos within closed walls – case in point, he encourages his offspring to coldly slice a goose’s neck for dinner, and then serve them all sorts of alcohol at the dining table – and yet, it still takes her more than halfway into the movie to start realising that something sinister is going on. By that point, you’ve lost all interest in this character if she can’t even come to the most obvious conclusion without being nudged in the right direction, which is only because it really would be a short film were she actually smart in any sense of the word. The same can be said for Tom Goodman-Hill’s Richard, who at first seems like he’s reasonably sceptical about his children’s misbehaviour (even though he too acts just as unhinged as they do), but eventually things get so far beyond the point where any sane person would act, regardless of their fatherly duties, that he comes across as the dumbest father in the land for not picking up on the blatant hints way earlier.

If this were simply a short film, a lot of this could be easily forgiven. Within those limited boundaries, especially within the horror genre, it’s all but impossible to relay anything outside of pure mood and atmosphere instead of reasonable logic, because there’s simply no extra time dedicated to any of that. The rules are much different when your film barely meets the feature threshold, and since you have to imply a sense of logic on top of everything else, it’s so much more noticeable when there is none, and so in the case of Homebound you’re left watching something that is frustratingly not making any sense while also trying to be an effective genre film. It struggles as even that, since Godwin the director isn’t able to say anything truly scary through his craft, due to the understandably low budget he’s been given which doesn’t allow him much opportunity to really lean into some of the gorier and much more disturbing visuals implied by the thin story.

As such, the resulting film is as irritatingly undercooked as the goose that characters slice up and bake early on. You want to give it some leeway for it having limited resources due to its evident low budget, but when the script it’s working with can’t even make sense of its own logic, with too many things that do not add up and characters who you don’t care for because of how said script portrays their ill-conceived arcs, it’s hardly worth giving it the satisfaction. Had it stuck to its guns as a short film, perhaps some or even all of its problems would have been forgiven – but its feature-film status unfortunately pronounces it as a horror you don’t want to spend the weekend with.

SO, TO SUM UP…

Homebound is a frustratingly stupid horror that makes it hard to forgive its low-budget limitations when it’s working from a script that makes little to no sense, with lead characters who are too dumb to root for or even care about, and restrictions that could have been solved were it a short film instead of a feature.

Homebound will be released in cinemas nationwide on Friday 1st April 2022 – click here to find a screening near you!

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