The House: ‘Subtly Spooky and Splendidly Animated, But Not Quite Overwhelming’

image from imdb

Review by Rachel Cronin

3 stars

Quietly eerie and wildly uncomfortable, this three-part British stop-motion anthology written by Enda Walsh will have you staring into space and contemplating what the hell just happened. But it doesn’t quite live up to its full potential.

The House (2022) began streaming on Netflix on January 14, and features names that any media-savvy British household will know- Helena Bonham Carter, Mark Heap and Matthew Goode to name a few.

The film’s three parts (all by different directors and with different animation styles) tell separate tales of the goings on in a grand mansion over the course of hundreds of years, beginning in the 19th Century and ending with a post-apocalyptic water-logged world.

The first features an impoverished family that are promised wealth and happiness in a newly built home made by a mysterious architect, where they become taken over by their obsessive materialism.

The second and by far the most disturbing part of the film follows a lonely property developer (who is also a rat) while he struggles to make a sale on the newly renovated House, when some hungry buyers scuttle inside during a viewing and refuse to leave.

The final episode tells the story of young landlady Rosa, a cat who refuses to give up on her obsessive dream of restoring the House to its former grandeur (even though an impending flood is days away from killing her if she stays where she is).

The self-proclaimed dark comedy is alluringly made and the animated fuzzy figures of the first part give texture to the spooky aura of an equally unsettling story. The House could be called ‘quirky’ if the general taste of the film was more light-hearted, but it can more easily be described as distressing, as the almost-intriguing plot is not quite worth the toll that the uncomfortable scenes take. Besides some loose criticism of materialism, the only strong message of the film is a warning to the audience to be careful of what they want most in the world.

Had the stories been more solidly interlinked with each other (apart from the setting, of course) The House could’ve been a phenomenon, but its watery writing caused this creepy collection of tales to ever so slightly miss the mark.