Monster House review by The Grim Ringler

Monster House

Man, I really wish they had movies like this when I was a kid. Sure, they had some rad movies, but nothing that really tapped into the fear kids have that never really translates to adulthood. The fear of What If that fades as you see some of the real horrors of the world and you realize that there really are no monsters and ghosties lurking around in the darkness. The closest one I can think of is, for me, Monster Squad. There are others, movies that tapped into the beautiful ideal of childhood, but I can’t say I liked them so, to hell with them. Monster House is a reminder for us adults, and an acknowledgment for kids that yes, there are things lurking in the dark still, though sometimes they are just our unseen shadows.

Across the street from DJ, a boy with an imagination as boundless as his energy, is the scariest house in the world, and inside it is the scariest man in the world. Or at least it seems that way. DJ has been watching the house and keeping a log of the activity from it’s owner, Mr. Nebbecracker, a notoriously nasty old man who keeps children away from his yard by every means possible. When DJ’s friend Chowder’s new basketball rolls into the yard of old Nebbecracker, it’s the worst possible thing either boy can imagine happening. DJ does his best to be the good, brave friend, and sneaks onto the property of the old man but as soon as he is halfway to the ball Nebbecracker comes rushing out of his run-down old house and is on DJ in an instant. As the boy and old man tussle, DJ trying his best to get away before something bad happens, the worst DOES happen, and old man Nebbecracker falls over, his heartbeat gone. DJ has killed him, at least as far as he is concerned. Just when the boys think that the horror is done with them though, DJ gets a call late into the night, a call from the house across the street. Was it the ghost of Nebbecracker? Was it something inside? Or was it the house itself? The truth is far more tragic and horrible than DJ and Chowder might have imagined, when they head across the street to investigate what the secret of the place is and find that Nebbecracker might have been mean, but his house is monstrous, and very, very hungry.

Surprising in every way, I was shocked how much I liked this film. I figured, at best, it’d be a fun time killer and maybe have some swell animation. Better than that, it had a very good plot, engaging acting, terrific animation, and a scary plot. Yes, scary. The house in the movie is very well realized and feels like a dangerous, haunted place. The house feels alive. It watches the boys, it lures them, it taunts them, and towards the end, it becomes enraged and seeks out revenge on them. The best thing I can say about the movie is that it walks the line between kids movie and subversive adult film perfectly. It nails the funny lines, reactions, and dumb jokes that kids love, while throwing in some thrills as well, and it gives adults some very creepy moments and some damned good one-liners. It’s the kind of film where you don’t even realize who is doing the voices until the credits roll – credits you’ll want to stick around for. This isn’t about the actors, it’s about the story, and the house. I also really have to applaud the filmmakers for making this a dangerous film for kids. Death and danger permeate this film and it’s impressive that the filmmakers had the guts to do that. Sure, it’s not as dangerous as it may seem, but Nebbecracker is a scary old man, who is almost monstrous himself. The house is out to devour people, and DOES. There is also a sadness in the story that really comes together towards the end and adds a level of depth the film really needed to make it as strong as it is.

It is pretty dark for kids, I have to admit. Perhaps too dark for most kids. I loved how dark the film was but for parents with kids, this leaned well towards PG-13 material, if you ask me. I was actually a little shocked it was just a PG. Some of the jokes bombs as well, though I think you can say that about most comedies. I might also point out that it paints teens and adults with a pretty broad brush. In this world adults are the enemy, especially when it comes to teenagers, and while this fits the mold of the film and kid’s films in general, it is pretty cartoonish how nasty the babysitter and her boyfriend are.

So far the most surprising film of the summer season, this is a film I didn’t expect to like at all. I knew I’d like Pirates 2 but this one was up in the air. Scary, silly, weird, and a throwback to the days when we were all kids and afraid of what waited for us in the shadows, this is a great movie, though it is a better Halloween film than summer film. Eh, whatever.


8 out of 10 Jackasses
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