HOMEBOUND builds and builds, and then gives us nothing over the 71-minute runtime. A generic horror/family drama through and through, HOMEBOUND is boring on every level.
Repeatedly unanswered phone calls start the movie, setting the tone that something is amiss. A middle-aged couple, Richard and Holly, are driving together. “Be yourself,” divorced father Richard (Tom Goodman-Hill) says, and bright red HOMEBOUND credits roll over his fiancee Holly (Aisling Loftus) as she thinks about that.
Holly has always wondered what it’s like to be in a “proper family,” and now she is on her way to meet Ralph (Lukas Rolfe), Lucia (Hattie Gotobed), and Anna (Raffiella Chapman), Richard’s trio of children. They’re hiding secrets from the kids before they even get to their house – – but the kids might have some secrets of their own.
Richard and Holly pull up to the driveway and enter the children’s home. No one seems to be there at first…not even the three kids. When Richard and Holly do finally find them, they’re awfully quiet. Richard’s youngest child, Anna, refuses to answer when asked where her mother is. The two older, Ralph and Lucia, barely speak at all. The mom’s phone voicemail says service is unavailable.
Have the youngsters been abandoned by their mother, Nina, or is something else afoot? This is the question HOMEBOUND asks. Lots of slow camera pulls and zooms imply that as a potential stepmother, Holly should be worried.
The tale is built with a slow momentum, and since characters are barely written any dialogue, they have little to say and do in this movie. The conversations they do have lead nowhere.
There’s a lack of chemistry between Dad and his kids, though Holly is repeatedly worried as she bonds with Anna, the youngest child. Aisling Loftus as Holly is the standout actress, with her facial expressions adding unspoken depth to lots of scenes, but even her character is sparsely written.
HOMEBOUND has a repetitive, monotonous score that I felt neutral about each time I watched the film, but the person I watched with found the air-siren noises really grating. Upon my second watch, I thought the use of sound was pretty random – – some silent scenes could have really used a music cue to boost them. Other times, the score blared over super-slow B-roll footage of the kids’ house, in an attempt to set the tone (and maybe to extend the runtime).
Director Sebastian Godwin has previously made a handful of short films in the early 2000s, with some of the most recent being The Girls and The Rain Horse in 2007 and 2008, respectively. In interviews for HOMEBOUND, he revealed that he makes movies about things that scare him. He felt that the fear of families — how “alien” they can be, and how a family can make an outsider feel — was a good premise for HOMEBOUND.
The handheld camera work is unremarkable. Though there are a few intense scenes and more interestingly composed shots towards the end of the movie, HOMEBOUND still feels half-baked. At about 70ish minutes, this film is noticeably short, maybe because, as Godwin noted in an interview, there were budgetary and time constraints on the production.
HOMEBOUND doesn’t reward the audience for making it through to the end, but instead cuts off abruptly, maybe jaggedly implying a sequel or a part two. And it certainly doesn’t need those.
HOMEBOUND is now available in select theaters and On Demand.