Monster House (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Gil Kenan|
|Music by||Douglas Pipes|
|Cinematography||Xavier Perez Grobet|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Box office||$140.2 million|
Monster House is a 2006 American 3D computer-animated family horror comedy film directed by Gil Kenan, produced by ImageMovers and Amblin Entertainment, and distributed by Columbia Pictures about a neighborhood terrorized by a demonic house. The film stars Mitchel Musso, Sam Lerner, and Spencer Locke. The characters are animated primarily utilizing performance capture. Monster House received generally positive reviews from critics and grossed over $140 million worldwide.
The parents of twelve-year-old DJ Walters leave town for the weekend, leaving him in the care of his babysitter, Zee. DJ has been spying on his elderly neighbor Horace Nebbercracker, who confiscates any item landing in his yard. After DJ's best friend Chowder loses his basketball on Nebbercracker's lawn, DJ is caught by Nebbercracker trying to recover it, but the enraged owner apparently suffers a heart attack and is taken away by an ambulance. That night, DJ receives phone calls from the house with no one on the other end. Eavesdropping on Zee's boyfriend Bones, DJ hears him tell Zee about losing his kite on Nebbercracker's lawn when he was a child and that Nebbercracker supposedly ate his wife. Later, Bones sees his kite in the doorway of Mr. Nebbercracker's house, but he is consumed by the house while retrieving it.
The next morning, a girl named Jenny Bennett is selling Halloween candy. DJ and Chowder see her going to Nebbercracker's house and rush out to catch her before she is eaten by it. Jenny calls the police but is not believed.
The trio seek advice from Reginald "Skull" Skulinski, a supposed expert on the supernatural. They learn that the house is a rare monster created when a human soul merges with a man-made structure, and that it can only be killed by destroying its heart. They conclude that the heart must be the furnace and Chowder provides a cold medicine-filled dummy that should cause the house to sleep long enough for them to douse the furnace. Police Officers Landers and Lester thwart their plan and they are arrested when Landers finds the cold medicine stolen from Chowder's father's pharmacy inside the dummy. When the officers go to examine the house, it eats them and the car in which DJ, Chowder and Jenny have been shut.
When the house falls asleep, the kids begin exploring. In the basement they find a collection of toys accumulated from Nebbercracker's lawn, as well as a door that opens to a shrine containing the body of Nebbercracker's wife, Constance the Giantess, encased in cement. The house realizes they are inside and attacks them. DJ, Chowder, and Jenny force the house to vomit them outside by grabbing its uvula. Nebbercracker arrives home alive, revealing that Constance's spirit is within the house and that he did not eat her but instead had given her some of the happiest times in her life. As a young man, he met Constance, then an unwilling member of a circus freak show, and fell in love with her despite her obesity. After he helped her escape, they began building the house. One Halloween, as children tormented her due to her size, Constance tried chasing them away but lost her footing and fell to her death in the basement. Nebbercracker had finished the house, knowing it was what she would have wanted but, aware that Constance's spirit made the house come alive, he pretended to hate children so as to keep them away.
DJ tells Nebbercracker it is time to let Constance go, but the house overhears this. Enraged, it breaks free from its foundation and chases the group to a construction site. Nebbercracker attempts to distract the house so he can dynamite it, but the house notices and attacks him. Chowder fights it off with an excavator and DJ is given the dynamite. While Chowder distracts the house, DJ and Jenny climb to the top of a crane and DJ throws the dynamite into the chimney causing the house to explode. The trio then see Nebbercracker with Constance's ghost before she fades away. DJ apologizes to Nebbercracker for the loss of his house and wife, but Nebbercracker thanks the kids for freeing him and his wife from being trapped for 45 years. That night, children in their Halloween costumes are lined up at the site of the house, where DJ, Chowder and Jenny help return the toys to their owners. Jenny's mother picks her up and DJ and Chowder go trick-or-treating, which they previously felt they were too old for. Those who were eaten by the house emerge from the basement.
- Mitchel Musso as DJ Walters, a 12-year-old boy
- Sam Lerner as Chowder, DJ's 12-year-old best friend
- Spencer Locke as Jenny Bennett, DJ's 11-year-old love interest
- Steve Buscemi as Mr. Horace Nebbercracker, a 72-year-old former US Army "demolition squad" expert
- Maggie Gyllenhaal as Zee, DJ's punk babysitter
- Kevin James as Officer Landers, a police officer
- Nick Cannon as Officer Lester, a police officer
- Jason Lee as Bones, Zee's punk rocker boyfriend
- Jon Heder as Reginald "Skull" Skulinski, a videogame-crazed comic geek and expert on the supernatural
- Kathleen Turner as Constance "The Giantess" Nebbercracker, a 675-pound woman who was once circus star in the mid 1940s
- Catherine O'Hara as Mrs. Walters, DJ's overprotective mother
- Fred Willard as Mr. Walters, DJ's overprotective father
The film was shot using performance capture, in which the actors performed the characters' movement while linked to sensors, a process pioneered by Robert Zemeckis. A stereoscopic 3-D version of the film was created and had a limited special release in digital 3-D stereo along with the "flat" version. It was released in approximately 200 theaters equipped for new REAL D Cinema digital 3-D stereoscopic projection. The process was not based on film, but was purely digital. Since the original source material was "built" in virtual 3-D, it created a very rich stereoscopic environment. For the film's release, the studio nicknamed it Imageworks 3D.
Monster House grossed $73,661,010 in the United States and Canada, and $66,513,996 overseas, for a worldwide total of $140,175,006.
The film received generally positive reviews from critics. Ian Freer, writing for Empire, gave the film 4 out of 5 stars with the verdict, "A kind of Goonies for the Noughties, Monster House is a visually dazzling thrill ride that scales greater heights through its winning characters and poignantly etched emotions. A scary, sharp, funny movie, this is the best kids’ flick of the year so far." Jane Boursaw of Common Sense Media also gave it 4 out of 5 stars and wrote, "This is one of those movies where all the planets align: a top-notch crew (director Gil Kenan; executive producers Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis), memorable voices that fit the characters perfectly; and a great story, ingenious backstory, and twisty-turny ending." Roger Moore of the Orlando Sentinel wrote, "This Monster House is a real fun house. It's a 3-D animated kids' film built on classic gothic horror lines, a jokey, spooky Goonies for the new millennium." He also gave it 4 out of 5 stars. Scott Bowles of USA Today observed, "The movie treats children with respect. Monster's pre-teens are sarcastic, think they're smarter than their parents and are going crazy over the opposite sex. Amy Biancolli of the Houston Chronicle wrote, "It's engineered to scare your pants off, split your sides and squeeze your tear ducts into submission." Michael Medved called it "ingenious" and "slick, clever [and] funny" while also cautioning parents about letting small children see it due to its scary and intense nature, adding that a "PG-13 rating" would have been more appropriate than its "PG rating." A. O. Scott of the New York Times commented, "One of the spooky archetypes of childhood imagination — the dark, mysterious house across the street — is literally brought to life in “Monster House,” a marvelously creepy animated feature directed by Gil Kenan."
Dissenting critics included Frank Lovece of Film Journal International, who praised director Gil Kenan as "a talent to watch" but berated the "internal logic [that] keeps changing.... DJ's parents are away, and the house doesn't turn monstrous in front of his teenage babysitter, Zee. But it does turn monstrous in front of her boyfriend, Bones. It doesn't turn monstrous in front of the town's two cops until, in another scene, it does." Todd McCarthy of Variety wrote, "Alert "Harry Potter" fans will notice the script shamelessly lifts the prime personality traits of J.K. Rowling's three most important young characters for its lead trio: Tall, dark-haired, serious-minded DJ is Harry, semi-dufus Chowder is Ron and their new cohort, smarty-pants prep school redhead Jenny (Spencer Locke), is Hermione.... [I]t is a theme-park ride, with shocks and jolts provided with reliable regularity. Across 90 minutes, however, the experience is desensitizing and dispiriting and far too insistent."
Review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 74% approval rating based on 158 reviews with an average rating of 6.8/10. On Metacritic the film has a score of 68 out of 100 based on 32 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews." Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.
|Academy Award||Best Animated Feature||Nominated|
|Annie Award||Best Animated Feature||Nominated|
|Directing in an Animated Feature Production||Gil Kenan||Nominated|
|Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production||Maggie Gyllenhaal||Nominated|
|Writing in an Animated Feature Production||Dan Harmon, Rob Schrab & Pamela Pettler||Nominated|
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Animated Feature Film||Nominated|
|Saturn Award||Best Animated Film||Nominated|
|Best Young Actor/Actress||Mitchel Musso||Nominated|
|Best Score||Douglas Pipes||Nominated|
A 56-page one-shot comic was released by IDW Publishing in June 2006, featuring the character of Bones and his backstory leading up to and during the events of the film. Simeon Wilkins, a storyboard artist for the film, was credited as the artist and co-writer of the comic.
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But then this is a kids’ horror...
- Daly, Steve (July 26, 2006). "A chat with Monster House director Gil Kenan". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 29, 2015.
I can’t imagine a better natural setting for a horror film than adolescence.
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- "Review by Scott Bowles (USA Today)". July 20, 2006. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
- "Review by Amy Biancolli (Houston Chronicle)". Retrieved January 1, 2013.
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- Monster House
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- Monster House - Metacritic
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- Fox, Matt (3 January 2013). The Video Games Guide: 1,000+ Arcade, Console and Computer Games, 1962-2012 (2nd ed.). McFarland Publishing. p. 192. ISBN 9780786472574.
- Columbia Pictures press release titled "Monster House: July 21, 2006" (offline)
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