|Directed by||Bernard Rose|
|Produced by||Tim Bevan
|Written by||Matthew Jacobs|
|Music by||Stanley Myers
|Edited by||Dan Rae|
|Working Title Films|
|Release date(s)||10 September 1988 |
|Running time||92 minutes|
Paperhouse is a 1988 British dark fantasy film directed by Bernard Rose. It was based on the novel Marianne Dreams by Catherine Storr. The film stars Ben Cross as the heroine's father and also features Glenne Headly and Gemma Jones.
While suffering from glandular fever, 11-year-old Anna Madden draws a house. When she falls asleep, she has disturbing dreams in which she finds herself inside the house she has drawn. After she draws a face at the window, in her next dream she finds a disabled boy named Marc living in the house. She learns from her doctor that Marc is a real person.
Anna sketches her father into the drawing so that he can help carry Marc away, but she inadvertently gives him an angry expression which she then crosses out, and the father (who has been away a lot and has a drinking problem, putting a strain on his marriage) appears in the dream as a furious, blinded ogre. Anna and Marc defeat the monster and shortly afterward Anna recovers, although the doctor reveals that Marc's condition is deteriorating.
Anna's father returns home and both parents seem determined to get over their marital difficulties. The family goes on holiday by the sea, where Anna finds an epilogue to her dream.
Paperhouse is notable for being the only film to date in which Charlotte Burke has had a major leading role. Elliott Spiers, who played Marc, made only one more film, Taxandria (1989). In 1991 he became severely ill from the side-effects of an anti-malaria medication and never fully recovered. He died at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, England, on 15 January 1994. Taxandria was released later that year and is dedicated to his memory.
Film critic Roger Ebert gave Paperhouse four stars out of four and called it "a film in which every image has been distilled to the point of almost frightening simplicity" and ended by saying "this is not a movie to be measured and weighed and plumbed, but to be surrendered to."
On the television show Siskel & Ebert, Paperhouse received a "Thumbs Up" from Roger Ebert who commented "I suppose Paperhouse will be classified as a fantasy thriller, but I thought it was a lot more than that. A dream movie that uses images so real and so concrete, they seem more convincing than most real-life dramas." He also commented how effective the soundtrack was. He said that Paperhouse showed that director Bernard Rose was extremely talented. Gene Siskel gave the film a marginal "Thumbs Down", but he agreed that Bernard Rose was very talented and said, "for about two-thirds of the way I was fascinated by this film." He also commented on how well the dream scenes were handled and said, "these seem to be legitimate fears that child might have." He stated that "when the film got more explicit... I thought the film went over-the-top with imagery and I got a little tired of it. Until then, I was fascinated by it."
The critics who have submitted their reviews to Rotten Tomatoes have given Paperhouse a "fresh" rating of 100%, but the users give it a "fresh" rating of 70%.
This story was also made as a TV serial over six 30 minute episodes by ATV in 1972, entitled "Escape into night". The imagery of the TV series is almost identical to that of the film, so a lot of credit for the style of the movie should go to the TV director: Richard Bramall.
- "Elliott Spiers memorial website". Retrieved 4 May 2012.