Directed by: #UsherMorgan
Written by: #UsherMorgan
When a young woman suffering from severe agoraphobia loses her beloved therapy dog, she must find the courage to not only find her pet, but also face her own demons and find herself.
HomeBound (2021), directed and written by Usher Morgan, is a short drama focusing on Jamie (Katie Vincent), who has an extreme fear of leaving her New York apartment and being amongst crowds. After being advised by her therapist to get a dog, her gorgeous King Charlies puppy Bailey, becomes the catalyst to coaxing her to venture outside onto the loud, busy streets outside her apartment.
This is a very impressive film with an enthralling character study, depicting the great lengths one can take to overcome their personal demons and come out as a better version of themselves on the other side. It is an intimate and personal story, with an intense claustrophobic atmosphere presented throughout, as Morgan quite often implements extreme close ups on the lead and deeply immerse his audience in Jamie’s distressed headspace. We really feel the emotional trauma of her losing her dog, emphasised by quick flashbacks demonstrating the unconditional love and dedication they have for one another; it feels a great loss when we discover Bailey is missing.
The film orchestrates captivating visual metaphors for Jamie’s severe isolation and anxiety through a black empty space which surrounds her when she attempts to leave the front door of her apartment, or the hallway outside suddenly full of missing posters for her and Bailey. An awful, unsettling moment comes at the mid-point when we see Jamie appearing more confident in herself after getting her dog, only for her therapist to try and kiss her. It is heart-breaking to see her composure shatter afterwards, however, Bailey remains the grounding force in her life, stabilising her and making her feel safe. The film proudly promotes a touching message about the importance of therapy dogs in providing well needed companionship and support for those that need it.
Katie Vincent as Jamie also gives a fantastic performance, conveying the overwhelming terror and uncertainty of her character very authentically. She is sensitive and emotionally raw throughout; a particular highlight of her performance shines when she breaks down beside her front door as she struggles to leave her apartment and steady her breathing. The film would not work nearly as well without that strong leading performance and Vincent is incredible in this.
Despite the hard hitting tension and stress, the film finally ends on a heartfelt, cathartic note which is very emotional after we have closely experienced Jamie’s anxiety alongside her for the better part of twenty minutes. Astyria wrote and performed the original song ‘Burn’, which plays during the final sequence showing Jamie overcoming her fears and adds a great triumphant punch to the scene, contrasting the wonderfully melancholic original tracks composed by Christopher North.
Despite having a simple plot, HomeBound works perfectly as a self-contained, intimate character piece. It tells an uplifting, emotionally resonant story which is executed expertly through precise direction and a fantastic lead performance, with a powerful message about the human drive to face our fears and overcome the obstacles life throws at us. This endearing short comes highly recommended (especially for dog lovers!).