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Housebound is a critically acclaimed supernatural comedy thriller with a distinctive New Zealand rural twist. The film stars Rima Te Wiata and Morgana O’Reilly, I had a chat with the wonderfully charismatic Rima. She emphatically told me to make sure people aren’t dissuaded from seeing the film on the basis of its scare factor. I’m certainly extremely intrigued to see it. In cinemas now
Is the film a horror or a comedy?
It is more than both a comedy and horror. It’s thriller and small-town drama as well… there are so many different genres thrown into the mix, which Gerard has balanced out to come forward at different times. That’s partly why it’s so funny, because you recognise different parts of it and especially aspects of wacky New Zealand.
Is it distinctly a NZ film?
Oh definitely! Except that when we take it overseas, people get it!
Where was it taken overseas?
Everywhere. First, the SXSW in Texas in the US, and it went off from there. The producers had a big boost of confidence after that and it went to Edinburgh, Switzerland, and did really well. Won an overall award in Switzerland.
That would be reassuring.
Yes, really nice to get that validation, but then I also don’t think artists should rely on it. What your little team believes in is more important than critical acclaim because it is so dependent on the market at the time. But I think we just made something really weird and unique and people have reacted in being like: ‘Oh, that’s my family.’
Oh, so the classic family types?
The quiet new partner of the mother and the mother who cannot stop talking. Something really weirdly domesticated that is a little bit off-kilter. You know that odd history we have here where random people come out of the woodwork? It’s like that, but they’re normal!
You play the mother?
Yes, Miriam; and my daughter Kylie was played by Morgana O’Reilly. We had a really great time. She’s such a little bitch in it. She has to be quite bad-tempered, but bad-tempered in so many different ways. There’s frustration and depression. In her mind, the different variations are caused by other people but in fact, or at least from Miriam’s point of view, she is impatient and selfish. This film is also about different perspectives. Why are they so naggy? It’s because that’s what you know about them. The little mosquito-bite that won’t go away.
How scary is it?
It is not too bad, but neither is it tame. Not one of those ones where you cannot go to the woodshed for ten years. You will get a fright but you will laugh. Not endless tension.
What was the filming environment like?
We were in an old house in the North Shore in Auckland. There were quite a few scenes of Morgana and I in the bathroom. It was boiling, there were so many people in there. Wearing this wool for hours on end… oh God, I thought I was going to faint. There was a lot of screaming and carrying on too.
How long did it take to shoot?
It took about three years. Depending on when everyone was free.
It was relatively low-budget?
We received 250,000 from the NZFC Escalator Scheme. I don’t want to sound ungrateful because that is fantastic support, but it’s not much money for a competitive film. At a film festival, you don’t want to be the beige cardigan. You need to make a profit.
I see its been reviewed really well!
It’s been raved about! You sit there a bit stupefied and wondering how it happened. It is a very unusual film, but great fun. I look absolutely appalling, lit to make me look 110. I guess the one benefit is when people see me on the street I exceed their expectations.
You’ve been in theatre for so many years: what made you decide to be in a feature film?
Well, they don’t come along very often, especially for someone my age and for women!
Particularly for women, it’s unusual?
Yes, for women leading a movie, especially in a leading role.
Definitely, I’m really looking forward to seeing the film!
Oh great! You know that quiet myopic sense that small towns have sometimes? The film is like that, but then all this weird stuff happens. That’s why people laugh so much: because they are genuinely frightened, but then you look at the characters and they are absolutely mental.