The House is a cozy kind of creepy. Unlike conventional horror films, The House relies much less on cheap jump scares, rather giving you nightmares through pure psychological horror. This is no ordinary feat for a stop motion film.
Segmented into three parts, The House introduces the stories of three groups of people with little to no canonicity. Interestingly, all three stories unfold in the same house, with the catch being that they are all equally fixated with the said house. Behind the seemingly childish and playful characters hide several meaningful motifs, such as materialism, obsession, and greed. Through varying levels of disturbingness, this film is able to convey these otherwise unnerving topics to us, in a more visual and literal way. The explicit style of storytelling is almost like that of a fairy tale, short, sweet and simple, but more difficult to digest and understand. This is not to say that The House is purely a horror film. Moments of comedic relief, though not frequent, are effective in breaking down the intensity of the plot. Moreover, there are several truly heart-warming scenes dotted around the film, which are my favorite part of the movie. The third act of the film, for example, has a much more positive outlook than the first two. Overall, this film is slightly cynical and satirical, but also shows glimpses of hope, like sunlight in a bleak winter.
In terms of visuals, scenes are usually composed of a blend of realistic-looking props and cartoonish creations. For example, the house itself, in which the majority of the film is set, is a miniature replica of an actual mansion. Aside from the appearance of the house being quite consistent, the designs of the characters vary from scene to scene. The film starts with characters who may as well have marched out of the puppetry museum. The second and third acts reminded me of Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, both because of their peculiarity and also due to their similarities in character portrayal! Aside from a handful of scenes that required special animation, the film is almost purely stop motion. The color tones of scenes assist greatly in storytelling. A gentler, warmer hue of orange-red usually indicates a softer tone or a more sentimental sequence. On the other hand, sharp bright yellow colors could be a sign of impending danger. The soundtrack of the film was produced by renowned Argentinian composer Gustavo Santaolalla, who has in the past, written music for extremely popular horror franchises. The soundtracks, split into three parts like the film, also contribute immensely to creating tension and atmosphere. Act one’s score consisted of more mellow and orchestral-based music, which perfectly fits the slow intense build-up of the story. Act two is set in a modern era with a considerably more jocund setting. Hence, the music becomes funkier and more electronic. Recurring themes of melody can be found throughout the film, and somehow they manage to fit so appropriately every time. Nuances and subtle details like these, the intricacy of the set design, and the clever references sprinkled throughout the acts, have all made the entire film infinitely more entertaining and special. The House may seem like an intimidating movie, but the truth is, this film is perhaps the most fascinating and enjoyable piece of cinema that I have seen in a very long time. Frankly speaking, I am unhappy that this film has not received the recognition it deserves but secretly joyful that nobody seems to know this hidden gem. Believe it or not, this film actually taught me something that I never knew about myself: I have an intense fear of rodents and insects.