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Monster House - Review

Monster House

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Tricks and Treats: A Digital Deconstruction; Audio and Video Commentary; Pop-Up Graphics and Text; Outtakes; Character Designs3-D Study Models.

ROBERT Zemeckis, one of the executive producers of Monster House, believes that kids like to be scared. He therefore anticipates that going to see this movie will be “like entering a fun house in an amusement park”.

He might just be right, for this is a decidedly jumpy animated treat that has more than a few tricks up its sleeve for children and adults alike.

From the start, it looks distinctive thanks to the motion-capture animation employed by first-time director Gil Kenan, while the humour is broad enough to appeal to all ages.

The story centres around 12-year-old DJ (voiced by newcomer Mitchel Musso), a moody kid caught in that awkward moment between childhood and the onset of puberty.

Together with his friends, Jenny (Spencer Locke) and Chowder (Sam Lerner), DJ becomes convinced that there’s something weird about the house across the street owned by old man Nebbercracker (Steve Buscemi).

Things keep disappearing into the dilapidated structure, whether it be basketballs or bikes that inadvertently find their way onto the front lawn.

When events conspire to make them believe the house is actually alive and capable of eating anything in its path, the intrepid trio resolve to bring it down and venture inside on the day before Halloween in a bid to prevent trick or treaters from suffering a grisly fate.

Kenan’s movie (which also boasts Steven Spielberg as another producer) clearly benefits from having such an immensely talented creative team on board. It’s consistently inventive, boasts cutting-edge effects and a nice supporting cast of voices.

Aside from Buscemi, the likes of Kevin James, John Heder, Jason Lee, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Kathleen Turner all contribute memorably in some way.

It also manages to combine the laughter and the chills confidently so that kids will actually have fun being scared.

The house itself is suitably creepy and Kenan finds plenty of ways to make it assume human qualities, such as using its windows as eyes and a flying bit of carpet as its tongue.

Hence, when the kids get inside, it offers a rollercoaster ride of thrills that culminate in a spectacular “uvula” sequence that genuinely thrills. It’s really when the vast imaginations of both Zemeckis and Spielberg come to the fore.

The only real criticism surrounding the film is that it might be a little too intense for really young kids, who may have fled long before the feel-good ending, but in all other respects this is an impressive achievement that deserves to become a monster hit.

Certificate: PG
Running time: 90mins