Housebound (2014) written and directed by Gerard Johnstone
Young hoodlum Kylie (Morgana O'Reilly) gets caught by the police yet again, this time robbing an ATM. Since she's been through various rehabilitation programs, the court decides to try a different approach and sentences her to eight months house arrest at her mother's home, with visits from her probation officer and a therapist. The sentence should be easy time but Kylie is estranged from her mother. Mom still lives in the house where Kylie grew up. He mom has married a new and strange man since her husband left her for better times. The family dynamic is dysfunctional and awkward. If that wasn't bad enough, Mom thinks the house is haunted, which Kylie initially scoffs at. Then things start going bump in the night, especially in the dark and creepy basement.
What could be played as a straight-faced horror movie is played as a comedy. The movie runs through a lot of standard cliches (the creepy basement, weird and unnerving toys, false suspects, etc.) but the New Zealand setting and cast give it some freshness. Kylie is initially unlikeable but grows on the viewer as the situation gets more complicated and harrowing. After an hour and a half of comedy and jump scares, the ending is surprisingly gory which is also played for comedic effect.
Horror-comedy is hard to pull off. This is not a great example but a good one. It had more depth than I was expecting and more twists too. The gore at the end was a bit much and felt out of place, but it was a rather minor flaw overall.
It's available on DVD and also streaming through Netflix (at least as I post this in February 2018).