Michael vs. Thomas: HOUSEBOUND and STAGE FRIGHT
Michael Rich and our Editor-in-Chief love horror films and hate each other. In the spirit of the great horror face-offs of history, they’ll be going toe-to-toe in the ring and covering the horror films of Netflix in Michael vs. Thomas.
Logline: Which is worse: being held prisoner in a haunted house, or having your weirdo family in there with you?
Thomas: A lot of good horror is coming from the Land Down Under, and I think that HOUSEBOUND is certainly an enjoyable film. An enjoyable horror film though? I can’t say so in good conscious. If only they had tried half as hard to make it scary as they did funny, this would have been a hit!
Michael: I, too, like Australian horror. We’ve got a New Zealand film on our hands here, though, Thomas.
Thomas: Same difference, right?
Michael: Yeah, they’re basically the same thing. Anyways, I appreciated the dark comedy of this. I love Kylie getting splattered with blood and an especially great explosion at the end. What I didn’t love was Kylie’s character. She’s unlikable from beginning to end.
Thomas: It was kind of weird that they even bothered trying to have her learn a lesson at the very end through that one conversation with Eugene. I would have respected it more if she had just never learned a lesson to some degree, as that would almost then make me feel as if she deserved what happened. The most frustrating part for me, however, was that they rationalized everything! Why not just let us be fine with it being a haunted house?
Michael: It’s a haunted house twist we’ve seen before. While I don’t necessarily love HOUSEBOUND, I can appreciate it for being smart. Wouldn’t you consider it a thinking man’s horror-comedy?
Thomas: Watch that non-inclusive gender terminology, Michael! I wouldn’t really say this is a thinking person’s horror-comedy, as much as it is just a generally funny one. I think most of the cleverness is given to the humor as opposed to any particularly innovative narrative twists or scares. A lot of my goodwill goes to what a solid premise it is for a horror film since the character’s literally locked in.
Michael: Yes, the house arrest premise is clever. HOUSEBOUND is solid. It’s not my brand of horror, but I’ll definitely recommend it.
Thomas: I’ll recommend it as well, but only under the caveat that viewers should expect to laugh and not be scared.
Logline: These musical campers are ready to kill it on stage. Looks like someone’s beating them to the punch.
Michael: You would think horror and musical audiences are on complete opposite sides of the movie spectrum, but THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, REPO: THE GENETIC OPERA, and other scary musicals have shown there is definitely a fanbase. That said, I’m not usually part of that fanbase. STAGE FRIGHT awkwardly juggles the genres in a way that never quite comes together for me.
Thomas: Yeah, I apologize for selecting this one to be viewed. There’s not too much to be redeemed from this film, and it’s really much more of a half-assed “musical” than a horror film. What in God’s name were they thinking with the screeching 80s cock rock guitar solos that introduce our slasher each time he comes on screen?
Michael: Actually, my favorite part of the movie is when the killer rocks a ridiculously over-the-top guitar solo before going after Meat Loaf (who is in this film for some reason…).
Thomas: The Meat Loaf inclusion makes some sense, considering he fits in well with a general over-the-top, campy theatricality, but that I think is the film’s fatal flaw. Apart from the guitar solos (which I found try-hard rather than amusing), I don’t think it’s campy enough, or at least not in a way that feels fresh. This kind of thing would need some self-awareness to succeed.
Michael: One thing I found particularly strange is that the most of the musical numbers aren’t horror-related. My family heard me watching the movie from the other room and thought I was watching Barney.
Thomas: How did you feel about the gore? I think it was the film’s only fun part.
Michael: Oh, the gore is great. There is an effect I liked toward the end with someone literally nailed in the face like Pinhead. I’d argue that the gore is the only sign that this is a horror movie.
Thomas: No tension, no suspense, and really not that much fun! A resolute dud.
Michael: I’m biased from the offset because I don’t like horror musicals. But, I think even fans of the subgenre will have trouble embracing this one.