An eerie and thematically strong stop-motion gem
The House is a delightfully bizarre medley of ideas and concepts, thrown together into a gem of a stop-motion movie anthology. Themes of corruption, greed and loneliness are rife right the way through this, but these allegories are cleverly disguised through some gorgeous imagery and three very different tales woven together.
Clocking in at a little over 90 minutes, each of these stories are allocated a good 30 minute chunk of time, although they do sometimes end a little abruptly – especially the first part. 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 developer (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.
While the movie bills itself as a dark comedy, it actually feels much closer to a lite-horror and fantasy offering. This is a clever little film though, one that interweaves its themes deeply throughout. There’s certainly more here than a bunch of felt puppets running around a spooky house.
The animation is quite simply outstanding. While it’s not quite at the same level as Kubo and the Two Strings, the undeniable attention to detail is hard to fault. Likewise, the lighting is brilliant right the way through, with the first part making great use of shadows to ramp up the tension.
Watching this at surface level, the first part is by far the strongest and will undoubtedly draw a lot of people in, expecting the other stories to match this eerily surreal and enthralling movie. They never do, as it happens, and at times the tales can feel a bit disparate and uneven. That much is especially true when it comes to the second part, which is arguably the weakest of the three, despite some nice Easter eggs that feel like a nod back to the first part (note the name of the baby here!)
Where The House shines though is with its themes and overarching concept. Ideas of perfection, materialism, capitalism, greed, corruption, loneliness and even hope are flirted with and embraced; molded into heady cocktail of the allegorical and literal.
As someone who loves the weird and wonderful, dissecting every hidden meaning and idea in a feature film, The House is perfect viewing. And it likely will be for anyone else looking for something a bit more thought provoking and artistic than the usual prequel/sequel/spin-off machine that is modern Hollywood. While it never quite reaches the same lofty heights the first 30 minutes achieve, there’s definitely enough here to recommend nonetheless.
Exquisitely animated and hauntingly beautiful, The House is a wonderful stop-motion animation, even if it is slightly uneven at times.
Read More: The House Ending Explained
Verdict - 8/10