Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)
Writer/Director Sebastian Godwin creates a very anxiety-ridden slow-burn horror film with his first feature-length film in Homebound. The film follows Holly and her fiancé Richard as they head off on the English roadside to meet Richard’s three children for the first time. This introduction has Holly filled with many emotions as the meeting takes place at Richard’s ex-wife’s countryside home which is very secluded. It also happens to be the youngest child’s birthday. Holly is eager to make the best impression on the children and the ex-wife. Things start off bumpy when the kids are less than enthusiastic to meet Holly, also the children’s mother is nowhere to be seen. Lucia and Ralph (the older two of Richard’s three children) are very tight-lipped about any details of their mom’s whereabouts. This leads to an icy and uneasy demeanour in interactions with Holly (Especially when their father doesn’t have eyes on them).
Homebound at its core is a psychological horror film about the family dynamic. It builds tension expertly throughout the first two acts until finally unravelling into chaos in the final act. The film may resonate better with people who have been through the stepparent situation. The emotions that one goes through are spot on, the anxiety of wanting to be accepted by the other person’s family (especially children) that Holly (Aisling Loftus) feels and shows on the screen is palpable and adds an interesting twist to this film.
Tom Goodman-Hill (Richard) and Aisling Loftus (Holly) go through very interesting character arcs throughout also. Their on-screen repour is very evident. This is good acting and also the fact that they have previously worked together on the TV show, Mr. Selfridge (2013) It doesn’t take long after arriving at the home for Richard to fall into cool dad mode, giving his kids the benefit of the doubt (and also given them way too many freedoms). Holly isn’t as easy to convince and although she wants to be part of a family she starts to learn it isn’t going to be as easy as she thinks.
The children as played by Raffiella Chapman (Anna), Hattie Gotobed (Lucia), and Lukas Rolfe (Ralph) do a superb job of ranching up the eerie and creep factor. They play the “I have a secret, but I’m not telling you” element to a tee. Anna at least tries to show enthusiasm for having Holly at the house, while the other two hide their disdain just under the surface.
Writer/Director Sebastian Godwin does a great job of keeping the audience engaged throughout the film. The secrets slowly reveal themselves and not before they should. This is a good case of keeping all your cards close to your chest. Sure, there are situations throughout the film that hint at things out of the ordinary, but this can be dismissed as teen angst or teenage rebellion, especially since the kids have been introduced to their Stepmother “out of the blue”. The anger isn’t just in Holly’s direction though, it becomes very evident that the older children have an axe to grind with their father too.
The final character that makes this film so eerie is the location and overall atmosphere of the film. The film starts with so much happiness as the loving pair of Richard and Holly set out for their visit. The arrival at the house slowly picks away at the positivity and with each new discovery, it crumbles that happiness into a dark and disturbing mess. . The house adds to this feeling too at first feeling very welcoming and slowly and methodically becoming more isolated and drab.
Homebound is not a film that will emit positive and happy feelings, it’s meant to cause suspense and uneasiness. The film is well-acted and perfectly executed throughout. Its players perform with ease in sometimes a way too believable manner. The Charm of Homebound lies in the anxiety-riddled story and not knowing what will happen next.
Although this slow-burn style of storytelling may not be for everyone, Homebound is a film worthy of checking out. There are no jump scares, and minimal blood and guts, but what the film lacks in bloodlust it more than makes up for in atmosphere and great storytelling.
HOMEBOUND releases in Select Theaters and On Demand on May 13