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Monster House (film)

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Monster House
Film poster showing three children standing behind, watching the haunted house. A text "There goes the neighborhood." appears at the top of the poster, and the title and the names of the cast and crew appears at the bottom of the poster.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byGil Kenan
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Dan Harmon
  • Rob Schrab
Music byDouglas Pipes
CinematographyXavier Perez Grobet
Edited by
  • Fabienne Rawley
  • Adam P. Scott
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • July 21, 2006 (2006-07-21)
Running time
91 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$75 million[2]
Box office$140.2 million[2]

Monster House is a 2006 American 3D computer-animated[3] horror comedy film[4] directed by Gil Kenan in his directorial debut from a screenplay by Dan Harmon, Rob Schrab and Pamela Pettler about a neighborhood being terrorized by a demonic haunted house. Starring the voices of Mitchel Musso, Sam Lerner, Spencer Locke, Steve Buscemi, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kevin James, Nick Cannon, Jason Lee, Fred Willard, Catherine O'Hara and Kathleen Turner, the film features human characters animated using live-action motion capture animation.

Produced by Robert Zemeckis' ImageMovers and Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment,[5] the film was released theatrically by Columbia Pictures on July 21, 2006 in the United States and was a critical and commercial success, grossing $140 million worldwide against a budget of $75 million.[2]


The parents of twelve-year-old D.J. Walters leave town for the weekend, leaving him in the care of his babysitter Zee. DJ has been spying on his elderly neighbor Mr. 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.

Shortly afterwards, Bones sees his kite in the doorway of Nebbercracker's house, but he is consumed by the house while retrieving it. Meanwhile, DJ meets up with Chowder, and the two investigate the house, but flee when it comes alive and attacks them. 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 save her from being eaten. Jenny then calls the police but is not believed.

The trio consult Reginald "Skull" Skulinski, a supposed expert on the supernatural. They learn 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 Lister thwart their plan and they are arrested when Landers finds the cold medicine stolen from Chowder's father's pharmacy inside the dummy. The house then eats the officers and their 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 in order to protect them.

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 ascends into the afterlife. DJ apologizes to Nebbercracker for his losses, but Nebbercracker thanks the kids for freeing him and his wife from being trapped for 45 years. Later, 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.

Voice cast[edit]


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.[6] 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 RealD 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.[7]


Box office[edit]

Monster House opened the same day as Clerks II, Lady in the Water and My Super Ex-Girlfriend and grossed $22,217,226 in its opening weekend, ranking number two at the box office. The film ended its theatrical run on October 22, 2006, having grossed $73,661,010 domestically and $66,513,996 overseas for a worldwide total of $140,175,006 against a budget of $75 million.[2]

Critical response[edit]

Review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 74% approval rating, based on 158 reviews with an average rating of 6.8/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Monster House offers adults and children alike into a household full of smart, monstrous fun."[8] On Metacritic the film has a score of 68 out of 100 based on 32 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[9] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.[10]

Ian Freer of Empire gave the film 4 out of 5 stars, stating "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."[11] Jane Boursaw of Common Sense Media also gave it 4 stars out of 5, saying "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."[12] Roger Moore of the Orlando Sentinel also gave the film four stars out of five, saying "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."[13] Scott Bowles of USA Today gave the film a positive review, saying that "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.[14] 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."[15] 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."[16] 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."[17]

Conversely, Frank Lovece of Film Journal International 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."[18] Todd McCarthy of Variety gave the film a negative review, saying "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."[19]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Award Category Recipient Result
Academy Award[20] Best Animated Feature Nominated
Annie Award[21] Best Animated Feature Nominated
Directing in an Animated Feature Production Gil Kenan Nominated
Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production Maggie Gyllenhaal Nominated
Sam Lerner Nominated
Spencer Locke Nominated
Writing in an Animated Feature Production Dan Harmon, Rob Schrab & Pamela Pettler Nominated
Golden Globe Awards[22] Best Animated Feature Film Nominated
Saturn Award[23] Best Animated Film Nominated
Best Young Actor/Actress Mitchel Musso Nominated
Best Score Douglas Pipes Nominated

In 2008, the American Film Institute nominated this film for its Top 10 Animation Films list.[24]

Video game[edit]

A video game based on the film was released by THQ on July 18, 2006 for the PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS.[25]


  1. ^ "Monster House". British Board of Film Classification. June 16, 2006. Retrieved October 28, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d "Monster House". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 12, 2012.
  3. ^ De Semlyen, Phil (September 24, 2010). "10 Horror Movies For Kids (Big And Small)". Empire. Retrieved August 29, 2015. But then this is a kids’ horror...
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ McCarthy, Todd (July 4, 2006). "Review: 'Monster House'". Variety. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
  6. ^ "The Animation of Monster House". Lost in the Plot. Archived from the original on 2007-10-08. Retrieved 2007-06-05.
  7. ^ For more info on the 3D technology used for Sony ImageWorks Monster House, visit:
  8. ^ Monster House at Rotten Tomatoes
  9. ^ Monster House - Metacritic
  10. ^ "CinemaScore".
  11. ^ "Review by Ian Freer (Empire)". Retrieved January 1, 2013.
  12. ^ "Review by Jane Boursaw (Common sense Media)". Retrieved January 1, 2013.
  13. ^ "Review by Roger Moore (Orlando Sentinel)". Archived from the original on 2012-10-21. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
  14. ^ "Review by Scott Bowles (USA Today)". July 20, 2006. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
  15. ^ "Review by Amy Biancolli (Houston Chronicle)". Retrieved January 1, 2013.
  16. ^ Michael Medved: Movie Minute Archived 2008-03-11 at the Wayback Machine.
  17. ^ "Review by A. O. Scott (New York Times)". The New York Times. July 21, 2006. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
  18. ^ Monster House
  19. ^ McCarthy, Todd (4 July 2006). "Monster House". Variety. Retrieved 28 October 2012.
  20. ^ "The 79th Academy Awards (2007) Nominees and Winners". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved March 2, 2012.
  21. ^ "34th Annual Annie Nominations and Awards Recipients". Annie Awards. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  22. ^ Ball, Ryan (December 14, 2006). "Golden Globes Favor Cars, Happy Feet, Monster House". Animation Magazine. Retrieved June 14, 2013.
  23. ^ Weinberg, Scott (February 21, 2007). "Celebrate the Genre Goodness with the Saturn Awards". Moviefone. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  24. ^ "AFI's 10 Top 10 Nominees" (PDF). Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2016-08-19.
  25. ^ 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)

External links[edit]