The news has come out that New Line Cinema has picked up the remake rights for the New Zealand-made horror-comedy Housebound. The film, which was the opening film at Toronto After Dark last year (and won three of the festival’s awards), tells the story of a rebellious woman, who is placed under house arrest in her parent’s house, which is apparently haunted. The planned remake by New Line will be produced by the original’s director Gerard Johnstone.
Ironically, I became aware of these plans to remake Housebound while I was preparing to watch my blu-ray of the film, which I bought last month. I have to say that this news puzzles me, while also not being entirely surprising. Housebound was quite well-received when it played at Toronto After Dark last fall, with the film winning the awards for Best Horror Film, Best Comedy, and Best Ensemble Cast. However, at the same time, the film had a pretty quiet Toronto theatrical release last month, with it being released on blu-ray the very same week. While genre film fans would undoubtedly be aware of Housebound, it is quite unlikely the mainstream audiences would have heard of the film before now.
It is somewhat of a shame that New Line Cinema would decide to remake Housebound instead of just distributing the original. While an argument can be made for the American remakes of foreign-language horror films, such as The Ring or Let the Right One In, Housebound is a perfectly accessible film from an English-speaking country. Are American audiences truly afraid of watching a film with unfamiliar actors speaking with New Zealand accents? Would they prefer watching a watered down version of Housebound starring some twenty-something from the CW? I would frankly be surprised if the remake retains the original’s comedic gore, as opposed to removing it to get a PG-13 rating.
The closest comparison that I can think of, in relation to this news, is the 2010 remake of Death at a Funeral, starring Chris Rock and Martin Lawrence. Even though the 2007 British original was directed by Frank Oz and featured recognizable faces like Alan Tudyk and Peter Dinklage, it was still decided that the film be remade with a star-studded American cast (which included Dinklage reprising his role). While the film surprisingly turned out to be just as funny as the original, it still must be said that the Death at a Funeral remake was completely unnecessary.
At this point, it’s too early to tell whether the remake of Housebound will be watered down for American audiences or have the same charm, with just more recognizable faces. However, either way, people should still pick up the original and give it a watch before this remake surfaces.