We all have those movies that we loved as children. While some will still hold up to today’s standards, Monster House is the complete opposite. It is as dated of an animated film as there can be.
Monster House is a 2006 animated film released by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment. Now, this is around the time where Pixar and DreamWorks were dominating in the animation department for cinema. You could say this film is the animation version of an A24 production before A24 became to be. Amblin clearly wanted a children’s animated film to stand out and challenge the formulas of a Pixar or DreamWorks, and while, for its time, it stood out as a slightly scary kid’s movie, the movie just doesn’t hold up in the present.
This was the directorial debut for Gil Kenan and it clearly feels like a rookie film. There just doesn’t seem to be a good grasp on the animation or the story. This could be a result of technology advancements but the frame rate feels off. The film doesn’t feel crisp when viewing it. Every scene appears as multiple, rapid images instead of a fluid motion.
As for the story, it literally takes one hour for anything to happen. Our three kid protagonists are in a stalemate with this house across the street that has a mind of its own, and the first two acts are just the kids staring at the house and trying to convince people the house is alive.
It’s not until the kids run into the cops that this movie begins to pick up steam. The rookie cop in this film is the best part. For 2020, this would be the most talked-about aspect of the film because the irony of a black cop threatening white kids is pure genius. The kids talk back to him and he actually threatens to shoot them. I was dying of laughter if I’m being honest; that scene is comedy gold and I’ll leave a link in here so you can view it.
From there, we finally see the plot play out as he angry, “evil” neighbor reveals to the kids that his deceased wife’s soul is actually the house and that she hated when kids of the past used to throw objects at the house. It’s fine but very predictable and the ending is quite anti-climatic. There’s really nothing standout about the film plays out because you saw it coming from a mile away.
Now, you have to give credit to the detail of the house’s human characteristics. It’s terrifying. The wooden pegs used as teeth, the door as the mouth, the carpet used as a tongue and the second-story windows used as eyes, that’s all fantastic and I feel like Kenan could have gone further and made a scarier film if given a PG-13 rating. However, this thought of a scarier film due to its rating would be disproven as three years later when the absolutely incredible Coraline was released.
I’m not saying this film isn’t enjoyable but it’s definitely a film that came out in the mid-2000’s. The look of the film and some of the humor are dated. The story is predictable but this film is redeemable due to the nature of imagination and when the house comes to live.
16 down, 15 to go.