The House Plot Synopsis
The House is a delightfully bizarre medley of ideas and concepts, thrown together into a gem of a stop-motion movie anthology. At the center of this oddity is a weird fixer-upper house and its haunted effect on the owners that wind up living there.
The first tale take place in the 1800’s, with a family moving in and hoping to find a new lease on life. Unfortunately what they find instead is a one-way ticket to madness.
The second story then shifts forward to the present, with a real-estate agent (portrayed as a mouse) fixing up the house to modern standards and trying to sell it off.
The third and final tale shifts us forward to the future, after the events of a devastating flood that’s ravaged the world. This house survives, sitting on a solitary urban island, as an exasperated landlady (depicted as a cat) tries to fix the place back up to its perceived beauty, while demanding her tenants cough up their rent.
Chapter 1: Why did Van Schoonbeek visit Raymond and Penelope?
During the first story, we learn that Raymond and Penelope are poor and looked down on by the rest of their family. They stand by their morals and ideals though, at least until Raymond receives a lucrative offer to stay in Van Schoonbeek’s mansion. A seeming no-strings-attached offer.
Just prior to this, Raymond is berated by his relatives, who retort that he’s a shell of a man, leading him to drink heavily and stare hauntingly into the fire that night. This lovely bit of foreshadowing signifies the beginning of the end for our protagonist.
It would seem that this darkness is what drew Van Schoonbeek to the family, if we’re to believe this mansion is really haunted. What follows is a slow, depressing descent into madness. For Raymond, he’s determined to try and prove his family wrong, which is his ultimate undoing.
Chapter 1: What happened to Raymond and Penelope?
A lot of this chapter revolves around the pursuit of perfection and materialistic wealth. Raymond becomes obsessed with the fireplace while Penelope finds herself constantly sewing, even in her sleep. This whole sequence is an allegory for the pursuit of perfection and how one can lose sight of what really matters.
The lights in the dining room which starts off this depressing spiral could well symbolize this too – the unobtainable light at the end of the tunnel.
As the pair became more and more engrossed in their pursuit of perfection, they slowly become part of the mansion. For Raymond, he becomes an armchair while Penelope turns into the curtains.
At the end of this story, a fire ravages the house. Mabel and Isobel, their two children, do manage to make it to safety though after witnessing the horrors of this house first-hand. However, it’s safe to assume that the pair do die after finally finding their true voice at the end.
When Mabel and Isobel show up in the lounge, they implore the pair to leave the house as quickly as possible. With curtains flung out the window, the two girls manage to escape, just as the house burns down. The parents died protecting their offspring, managing to find their voice at the end, even if it costs them their own lives in the process.
What’s going on with The House? Is it haunted?
A lot can be said about this house and its strange haunted effect on the different owners. While we’re not explicitly told that that house is haunted, the first example off this eeriness starting to creep in can be seen during this first chapter. Specifically, when Raymond and Penelope sit down to eat together. With Isobel and Mabel watching on, the lights suddenly switch on and the pair are mesmerized by the lights.
During the second and third stories, we see both owners wrestling with their own demons while trying to fix up this house, after being torn down and destroyed in the fire during part 1. This haunting, entrancing effect could also explain why Mr Van Schoonbeek was so desperate to sell his mansion in the first place.
The end of Part 1 revealed that Thomas, sobbing and crying in one off the rooms, was actually a paid actor, fed lines by Mr Van Schoonbeek all this time. It’s also worth noting too that during this part, as the fire spreads, we do see Van Schoonbeek who looks like an ordinary fellow, chuckling evilly at seeing Raymond and Penelope turned into pieces of furniture.
It could be argued that Van Schoonbeek is a manifestation of the haunting itself, reaching out to bring unsuspecting victims in to “feed” on their misery and insecurities. This would also explain why, in the third part, Cosmos is so determined to help Rosa leave the house.
Chapter 2: What’s with all the bugs?
A lot of the second chapter revolves around a renovator fixing up the old house we saw burning at the end of the previous story. After getting everything in shape, he opens up his doors and tries to sell this state-of-the-art home. Only, there are a lot cracks lying in plain (and not so plain) sight.
Bugs can be seen scuttering around the house, and from the opening to the end of this chapter, it becomes a recurring motif for this mouse’s problematic financial situation and his increased loneliness.
The Renovator has been obsessed with fixing up the house, driving himself mad in the pursuit of perfection (sound familiar?) The bugs appear to represent these hidden insecurities and fears that the mouse possesses. Nowhere else is that more evident than in a scene depicting the Renovator on the floor, in the fetal position while surrounded by bugs.
The mouse trying to “kill” and squash the bugs is an allegory for him pushing his repressed feelings deep in his psyche.
Chapter 2: Who is the Renovator’s sweetheart?
Throughout this tale we see our Renovator on the phone to his “sweetheart”, suggesting they get away to the Maldives and leaving numerous voicemails asking to phone back. As we find out later in the story, the Renovator’s “sweetheart” is actually his dentist. This realization is a shattering reality check as, in his pursuit of crafting the perfect house, our mouse has been neglecting his own mental health and letting his insecurities fester.
In fact, our mouse makes the heartbreaking decision and regresses back into his animalistic state by the time the story comes to a close. This is, of course, exacerbated by the strange couple showing up at the door and wanting to move in. They make the Renovator’s life a misery and eventually trash the place, destroying the hard work he’s put in to fixing everything up. The final shot shows our mouse leaving, living in a hole in the wall behind the oven.
Whether the Renovator actually hallucinates the strange couple who show up or not is left up for debate, but there’s no denying that this story in particular captures the essence of loneliness and its destructive effect it can have on someone really well.
Chapter 3: Why does Rosa want to fix up the house?
The third part of this anthology takes place in the future, with the world completely submerged and the house teetering on the edge of joining that same watery death. The interior of the house has certainly changed over time though.
Rosa has successfully renovated the place and turned it into several studio apartments, but as a landlady she’s super stressed. She doesn’t have a lot of money, the water is starting to rise and she’s growing ever-more impatient and irritated by her tenants not paying on time.
Rosa’s dream is to fix up this house up and make it a perfect place to make happy memories. She’s not quite at the same dangerous obsessive levels as the previous owners though, but she’s close, typified by her hopeless retort of “There’s nothing better out there anyway.”
Chapter 3: Who is Cosmos? How does he help Rosa break the cycle?
With Rosa struggling, a figure arrives that changes everything. Unlike the paid actor that is Thomas in part 1, Cosmos has come to help – and help he does. He’s a free-spirited individual and begins to break parts of the house to make a boat outside.
Rosa is initially angry but when Elias, one of her tenants, leaves for greener pastures, she certainly feels the effect of his absence. She’s disappointed that he didn’t even say goodbye and leaves Rosa with a big choice to make.
With the house being consumed by the rising water, Cosmos fixes up a failsafe of sorts for Rosa if she decides to follow them. Connecting a lever outside to the house, Cosmos offers her the option to break the cycle that’s plagued this dwelling for so long. It’s a proverbial leap of faith, and one that Rosa does eventually accept.
Chapter 3: How does The House end?
As the final chapter comes to a close, Jen and Cosmos leave on a boat of their own, with Rosa all alone with the house. Realizing that this is no way to live, she pulls the lever and the house leaves its foundations behind. The cycle has been broken, and as Rosa embraces her newfound freedom, her old ideas dissolve away.
This third and final chapter revolves around hope and hopelessness. To begin with, Rosa is hopeful that she can get the money from her tenants to fix up the house, but she hopelessly realizes that it’s a lot of work. By the end, she’s hopeful that her new life will be a fresh start for them.
Is there a post-credit sequence?
No, while there is no post-credit sequence, there is a god deal to unpack from the lyrics in the final song during said credits. When you listen to the lyrics of the song: “A house is nothing but a collection of bricks, a home is a place where love and life can mix.” this can actually be applied to all three stories here.
The first part saw Penelope and Raymond up and leave their happy home hopeful for a brighter future but doing so with the concepts of materialistic wealth hanging over them.
The mouse Renovator never had a home to call his own, and even surrounded by people it’s not enough to shake his feelings of loneliness that have consumed him. Eventually it forces him to return whence he came.
Finally, the third and final part sees this cycle broken through Rosa, who embraces the people around her and likens them to a family. Through courage, tenacity, and help from Cosmos, the characters manage to move forward to a more positive future, despite the bleak world around them.
Read More: The House Movie Review
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