Writer and director Sebastian Godwin makes his feature-film debut with Homebound. The film follows a couple as they venture into the countryside to visit the man’s ex-wife and kids. What begins as a nice family birthday celebration gradually turns into something much more sinister. No one seems to know where the ex-wife is, and the kids are acting quite strange. Godwin does a wonderful job of making it clear to the audience that something is wrong the moment the couple arrives at the country estate. From there, he gradually builds the tension until the film is bursting at the seams with unsettling mystery. It keeps viewers on the edge of their seat right up until the bitter end.
Homebound is the kind of film that you watch and wonder what you would do if in this situation. The film focuses on the point of view of the new fiancé as she is meeting her significant other’s kids for the very first time. This helps to create and build suspense as she tries to fit in with this already established family and make the kids like her, but at the same time she is also the one who can’t help but notice something is very wrong with these kids. Audiences who enjoy films like The Lodge and Eden Lake will likely enjoy Homebound.
The only aspect of this plot that isn’t quite as successful as the tension-building is the rather abrupt ending. It’s fine when filmmakers choose to leave an ending somewhat vague to let the audience interpret things on their own. This film sets up a handful of burning questions that are never fully answered. It makes the last shot of the film seem jarring as viewers will likely be waiting for answers that will never come.
The 5-person cast of Homebound are all fantastic. Aisling Loftus (A Discovery of Witches, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) stars as Holly. Homebound only has one person who seems to be rationally thinking and reacting to the events taking place, and Holly is that character. Loftus is great in this role as she is somewhat quiet and reserved, but is forced to overcome the increasingly uncomfortable situations or else put her safety at risk. Tom Goodman-Hill (The Imitation Game, Rebecca) plays Aisling’s fiancé and father of the children, Richard. At first, Richard seems great, but from the moment he is with his kids he begins to change. Goodman-Hill is great at keeping the audience guessing what Richard’s true intentions are and whether or not he is a villain in all this. Then there are Richard’s three children played by Raffiella Chapman (His Dark Materials, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children), Hattie Gotobed (Game of Thrones, Snow White and the Huntsman), and Lukas Rolfe (Fury, Miss You Already). Much like their father, it’s often difficult to determine if these children have good intentions or not. They are all wonderful at seeming innocent one moment and menacing in the next. Together, these performances drive the plot forward and make every moment even more insidious.
Homebound is a gradual, suspenseful tale that is sure to unnerve audiences as it keeps them guessing. Unfortunately, the audience will still be guessing after the credits roll as some questions are never answered. Yet the film is still quite enjoyable. It is anxiety-inducing in the best way, and the small cast are all fantastic in their respective roles. Fans of films like The Lodge will not want to miss this film. One thing is for sure, Homebound is a compelling first feature from Godwin, and I look forward to seeing what he does next.
OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10