Just about everyone has had that haunted looking house in their neighborhood. “Monster House” aims to take this somewhat common setting and turn it on its head by going deep into the mythos and urban legends created within children’s’ minds. The film follows DJ as he notices something sinister about the creepy house across the street- it’s alive and looks to take its anger on innocent children who come near it. Making matters worse, none of the adults believe him, leading to rounding up two friends as they attempt to stop the destructive house from attacking kids.
“Monster House” has the charm of a children’s film mixed slight terror. Just about every character has a gravitating personality, from an over eccentric best friend, a controlling babysitter who abuses her powers and a cranky old man that is the epitome of the scary neighbor. There’s an ever so presence of comedy in the film, both for children and adults. Numerous times there are jokes that will go right over a youngster’s head, making it as much of an enjoying experience for adults as it is for younger audiences.
The scare factor is rather tame for a horror film, though young kids who aren’t accustomed to such movies may have nightmares. Only a few instances does “Monster House” have dark imagery, mostly from the house itself. When it changes into it’s beast-like form, it can become scary with its wide array of emotions and destruction that it can make.
Indeed the film is very much a family horror comedy, but there’s an underlying component that is both heartwarming and mature. One component is the transition from adolescence to adulthood. DJ’s parents sense themselves distancing from their child as he begins to make more independent decisions. This is investigated further as DJ seems to be stuck deciding whether he should ditch Halloween festivities as he enters his teenage years. Topics like this give off a coming-of-age feel to “Monster House” making it a perfect film for preteens.
It’s been over a decade since it’s release and “Monster House” still manages to mesmerizes viewership with its beautiful character and art design. Utilizing motion capture, a new technology for the time, the film’s characters have a great degree of emotion. This leads to the performer’s full acting potential to be displayed on screen. Though it isn’t photo realistic, the visuals have a very cinematic feel to it.
The look of “Monster House” resembles a blend of both claymation and CGI, as elements like hair and body shapes have a very sculpted look. There is quite amount of detail placed within characters, for instance pores and beauty marks are visible on face, rather than a cheap plastic look to them. What makes the film really stand out is the choice of physical appearance. Never do have some sort of setting that pinpoints the era that the movie is taking place, even the clothing is designed in a manner to be relatable to several generations.
It seems every few years a new children’s film tries to enter the Halloween market, but rarely do they ever live up to the potential. Luckily, “Monster House” breaks through the mold, creating a welcoming addition to the genre and an overall entertaining film that will be watched for years to come.