Reviewed by

Bud Carlson

“Monster House” may well be the most intense movie I’ve seen all year. Scarier than “When A Stranger Calls (2006)”. More dramatic and engaging than “The Omen (2006)”. More gripping than “Final Destination 3”.  And a much better story than all of the movies mentioned above, because the characters are well-developed and likeable. 

Seriously, this is “Monster House” I’m talking about, the PG-rated animated film from Sony.  Sitting in the theater watching this movie, it sure felt like it should have been PG-13, given the intensity of its frights and the irreverence of its humor. 

It takes a while for this movie to get going. The first half-hour or so is the set-up: DJ (voiced by Mitchel Musso) lives across the street from Mr. Nebbercracker (a geriatric version of LOTR’s Gollum, and voiced by Steve Buscemi), and DJ and his friend Chowder (Sam Lerner) are suspicious that something bad is happening in Nebbercracker’s house. They meet up and become smitten with Jenny (Spencer Locke), a candy-selling prep school president who they rescue from Nebbercracker, though just barely. Nebbercracker has been terrorizing the neighborhood’s kids for generations, and he has a heart attach while engaging in a tirade against DJ for stepping on his lawn. Nebbercracker’s death should be the all-clear signal for the kids as their biggest nemesis is out of the way, but instead it is only the beginning of the horror, as apparently Nebbercracker’s rickety old house isn’t pleased at DJ’s part in its owner’s death. 

Once the movie gets rolling, the action just doesn’t let up. The voracious and vicious house, which has windows for eyes, jagged boards for teeth and a long oriental rug for a tongue, is now alive, and it’s angry. With the neighborhood adults totally oblivious to what’s going on, DJ and his friends watch in horror as the house starts devouring toys, pets, and eventually police officers that trod on its lawn. As the house becomes more and more of a killing machine, DJ, Chowder and Jenny spring into action with some pretty creative and daring solutions to stop it. This is the type of non-stop action that you wish all the other horror movies had, yet it comes packaged as an animated film for kids!

In one respect, animated movies are no different from all others: it is the characters that make-or-break a film, and the way that those characters interact is the key. In the case of “Monster House”, we have well-drawn kid characters facing fantastical kid dilemmas, talking the way that kids actually talk. The kids’ interaction is what carries the movie. The dialogue has a quick-witted pace to it that moves the story right along, with or without that monster house set piece roaming around behind it. 

Well-developed characters. Sharp, quick, and witty dialogue. And some really fantastic action. What more could you want?

Real Time Web Analytics