Monster House Is Scary, Funny And Enjoyable Film
The title alone should peak the interest of any genre film fan, but should the fact that this is a PG rated animation put you off watching it? Come on horror freaks; take a break from all that blood and gore and open your mind to something with a little more style and subtlety. Monster House is fun for all the family, but it’s a surprisingly dark effort for this type of movie, but should still entertain all but the most sour film lovers.
The b-movie style story is simplicity itself and focuses on young DJ (Mitchel Musso) who lives opposite a spooky old house occupied by a crotchety old man named Nebbercracker (Steve Buscemi). After Nebbercracker’s apparent demise, the old house seems to take on a life of its own and entices the unwary to breach its boarders so it can open its doorway of splintered teeth and swallow its victims. After DJ and his friend Chowder (Sam Lerner) witness firsthand the evil intention of the house, they team up with Jenny (Spencer Locke), an entrepreneurial girl scout to enter the heart of the house and unlock its mysterious secret.
Having Steven Speilberg and Robert Zemeckis as producers on your directorial debut must be a pretty daunting experience, but Gil Kenan appears to have kept his head and stayed focused with this almost family friendly cross between The Amityville Horror and The Burbs. The script isn’t as sharp as similar animatic offerings, but this tale of a killer place in the center of suburbia is a great attempt to create something a little different amongst the quagmire of cutesy movies about annoyingly cuddly animals. One might even say that this is an edgy experience for such a mainstream family movie but it keeps its sense of humor with endearing characters such as DJ (who reminds me of Freddie Highmore who played Charlie in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) and Chowder (who seems to be based on Jeff Cohen’s character Chunk from The Goonies). Whilst the slapstick humor of many animated features is kept to an absolute minimum here, the mystery and tension associated with the dilapidated house coming to life and terrorising the quiet street is enough to keep the focus of all the family, and is a great place for any horror adoring adult to start their loved one on the road to frightsville.
What Parents Need To Know
There really is no better way to evaluate this type of films reception by its younger audience than to watch Monster House online free along with a minor, and for legal reasons, preferably one that you know. My 7 year old had a similar reaction to several scenes that seemed to reflect the moment she first saw the evil grasshoppers invade ant island in A Bugs Life. To interpret it into its most basic form, you would have to describe it as simple raw fear. Parents of timid kids will know what I mean – the child stops smiling, beads of sweat well up on their forehead, they hit the floor gripped by a muscle wrenching fit of terror. OK, perhaps I exaggerate slightly, but the point I’m making is that this is great family fun, provided that your bundle of joy has a strong constitution, and the fact that the DVD version lessens the overall impact achieved by the big screen, I shudder to think how some children would react in the cinema without a comforting pillow to hid behind. Still, things do improve in the latter part, and whilst you would think the scenes where the killer house is chasing its neighborhood prey would be more intense, it actually defuses the tension due to its slant towards frantic action and its slightly silly appearance.
It’s clear from watching some of the DVD special features for free that a huge amount of effort has been put into the actors performances in Monster House. Eagle-eyed readers will probably be thinking “Actors? But isn’t this an animation, surely they just do a voice over from a nice comfy sound studio”. Normally you would be correct, but the filmmakers had a different idea when it came to the production of this particular feature, a decision which elevates this project from being just another throwaway animation and turns it into a stylish slice of entertainment. In simple terms, it’s all about performance capture. I’m not talking about Andy Serkis jumping around pretending to be a giant ape (although the technology is the same) but its close. Instead the actors are covered in motion sensor dots and physically act out the movement of their onscreen counterparts whilst speaking their designated lines. Anyone having already watched Robert Zemeckis’s last animated feature The Polar Express will know what type of technique I’m talking about. This is a clear challenge to the actors but the transformation from wireframe sticks to fully fleshed characters is amazing and produces stunning results which most people will simply take for granted. But Monster House full movie has some of the most fluid animation I have watched online in a long time and was definitely worth the effort.
The DVD comes with some interesting special features most of which can be found online free. Seven vignettes lurk in the mouth of the house ranging from an examination of character design through to the spooky sound effects. Among these are an interesting segment which maps the outrageous fortune of director Gil Kenan in securing his dream cast who then shows his appreciation by covering them is small balls and having them run around an empty sound stage in funny colored wet suits. Ahhh, the things you do for your art. Next up is a feature which uses that rarely pressed ‘Angle’ button examining the development of the whole feature from basic animatic, performance capture, layout, animation, final film and composite. Each is comparable via the Angle button and whilst not strictly a multi-angle feature, it’s nice to watch something a little different being done with the extras. There is also a nice but ultimately useless gallery full of conceptual art work with some stunning looking drawings to help establish the world of Monster House.