Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Monster House

2006, US, directed by Gil Kenan

It's not hard to see the hand of executive producer Robert Zemeckis in Monster House, what with the film opening with a reference to the floating feather of Forrest Gump (not to mention the inclusion of a character called Jenny), as well as a sequence which recalls the desperate attempts to reconnect a cable in Back to the Future. With all that and a trio of writers in the background, it's all the more admirable, then, that director Gil Kenan fashions an original and often visually arresting piece of work, laced with wit directed more at the adult audience than younger folk (there's an especially amusing bit involving a uvula), as has become common with higher-end animated features.

The plot concerns the eponymous house and the efforts of three youngsters to fend off the building's attempts to swallow them whole, and while there are some fun haunted-house sequences, the film is also concerned to sketch in the three young characters; the animation of their faces is very effective, most especially for the character of Chowder (who is also voiced with some skill by Sam Lerner). As well as crafting surprisingly credible characters, Kenan uses striking and sometimes unsettling angles throughout the film, throwing in entirely unexpected - and sometimes very witty - perspectives on the action, like the sequence shot from "inside" a video-game machine.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States