The House – Review

When Does A House Become A Home, And When Does It Become A Nightmare

From the innovative Nexus Studios comes a stop-motion anthology of 3 tales all surrounding the same house. Written by Enda Walsh and directed by Paloma Baeza, Emma De Swaef, Niki Lindroth von Bahr, and Marc James Roels the stories in The House take us on a journey of inner turmoil surrounding the one place that should make us feel safe.

Whilst most modern horror movies would have you believe there needs to be a physical monster, or mythical demon entity coming after the main characters The House channels old school pyschological horror where the only thing plaguing these characters are the fears that hit a little closer to home; literally. In a time of lockdowns and isolations, broken dreams, and lost wealth all three of it’s anthological tales explore a facet of these anxiteties that plague us on a daily basis.

Having heard nothing about this film and stumbling upon it on my Netflix pretty late into the night I had no expectations for what I was about to watch. I was pleasently surprised by the equal parts hauntingly beautiful and grotesque animation style, the unique and quirky characters the stories centred around, and the overall sense of unease it managed to dredge up in the pit of my stomach. The production design definitely helps create that unsettling atmosphere but the soundtrack by Gustavo Santaolalla keeps teetering on the edge of happy and dissonant so even when nothing too untoward is happening you still don’t feel completely comfortable. There is a moment with a title card before each new story begins where you can take a deep breath, but things quickly go back to being not quite right.

The stop motion animation is expertly done. You can really feel the environments and characters through the screen. The crunchy fur on the animals and silky polished smoothness of the stair banisters. Plus on top of these sets the lighting work really creates the different moods of each of these unsettling stories. The family who sign a contract for a free home without fully knowing the conditions, the rat developer who loses his project to an infestation of vermin, and the cat who’s dream renovation is constantly being delayed by her inability to secure funds.

What I did enjoy overall about the film was that it did not spiral downward. By that I mean the first story was by far the most disturbing of them all with a slightly more uplifting finale by the third story. As someone who has been spending a lot of time in their own house (both due to the pandemic and freelance worklife) it was fitting that this movie came at a time that I needed to be reminded not to dwell on my dwellings. The House delves into various themes surrounding lost dreams, mental health, financial status, and the sometimes more exertive effort of turning our houses into homes making me want to flee from the very room where I sat and watched it for the outside world.

To conclude if you are a fan of 90’s Henry Selick and Tim Burton in that you enjoy twisted tales told through the texture filled medium of stop animation than this will be right up your alley. It even includes the voice talents of the dark muse miss Helena Bonham Carter herself. The House is a unique and original film in a world full of remakes and remasters that whilst leaving me slightly offput also left me feeling refreshed and hopeful that is still original content out there.

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