When Monster House released in 2006, I was upset about the lack of films based on R.L Stine’s beloved Goosebumps books. The tv specials were fine and all, but a movie was the golden ticket. Monster House was the closest thing to a Goosebumps film until 2015. I guess Coraline and ParaNorman count depending on your point of view. But I choose to award Monster House with this accolade.
Monster House opens with a young girl riding her tricycle. She accidentally gets her bike stuck on a the lawn of Horace Nebbercracker, a grouchy neighbor. Hey…every neighborhood has one. He storms out of the house, accusing her of trespassing. The young girl is frightened and flees without her tricycle as Horace breaks it in a rage. This moment gave me chills as Horace is about to enter the house and stops slowly turning around. He senses someone is watching him. Horace is correct. DJ is spying on his neighbor from across the street and backs away alarmed.
Things take a turn when DJ’s friend, Chowder, misses a basketball shot and the ball ends up on Nebbercracker’s lawn. This infuriates Horace so much that he suffers a heart attack and seemingly dies.
Luckily he is not dead. However, that is the start of their troubles. DJ ends up getting phone calls from the house but no one is on the other end. Horace is living alone. DJ’s parents are away while Zee babysits. Bones, her boyfriend drunkenly remembers the time Horace stole his kite and ate his wife. This gets him thrown out. Thank goodness!
Bones is lured by the haunted house via a lost kite and is taken by the house. DJ and Chowder try to investigate but are attacked. Then, later on, Jenny almost gets taken by the house trying to sell Halloween candy. DJ and Chowder come to the rescue.
The cops are no help since the house is smart enough to remain docile around adults.
Jenny, DJ, and Chowder find help from an expert. Reginald “Skull” Skulinski reveals that the house is a monster created when a human soul merges with a man-made structure, and can only be killed by destroying its heart. This is straight out of an episode of Supernatural and I AM HERE FOR IT. They deduce that the house takes on human-like qualities, therefore it must have a heart. The heart of a house is a furnace.
That is good writing.
The trio conjures up a dummy and some stolen cold medicine to tame the monster house. The plan has foiled the cops. However, the monster house decides to kidnap everyone and the police car. That is one smart house.
Inside the house, they find a cement casing of Horace’s wife, Constance the Giantess. The house attacks them once more but they escape when they realize that the house has a uvula.
It is revealed Horace is alive and well. He tells the trio that Constance was part of a circus. They fell in love and he helped her escape. However, people are cruel and they made fun of Constance because of her size. She attempts to chase them off but Horace stops her. She accidentally falls to her death in a cement mixer, meaning that the house is the vengeful spirit of Constance.
Horace is convinced to let her go. Constance is having none of it as she levels up in the most terrifying way possible. She morphs and can run. The animation speaks for itself.
Good luck sleeping.
DJ, Chowder, Jenny, and Horace team up and take out the monster house once and for all in an amazing action sequence. Constance’s spirit is freed. Horace is at peace as he ends up giving back everything that was taken. DJ and Chowder have a new outlook on Halloween at the end of the film.
I enjoyed this film. It had all the ingredients of a Goosebumps book without being a part of R.L Stine’s universe. The animation was pretty awesome for the mid-2000s. I guess it helps when the house that acclaimed filmmaker Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future) built helps bring this film to life. It also doesn’t hurt when Steven Spielberg shares his production tools (Amblin) to bring this flick to life as well.
This film utilized performance capture. Avatar would soon use this technology to the millionth degree. Performance capture uses actors performing the characters’ movements and lines while linked to sensors, a process pioneered by Zemeckis for his film The Polar Express (2004). The film’s artists interpreted the roles on set and enhanced the lead actors through animation that drove the exaggerations of their performances to make them feel real.
Finally, the all-star cast is just amazing.
- Mitchell Musso (Hannah Montana) as Dustin James “D.J.” Walters
- Sam Lerner (The Goldbergs) as Charles “Chowder”
- Spencer Locke (Resident Evil films) as Jennifer “Jenny” Bennett
- Steve Buscemi as Horace Nebbercracker, Constance’s husband
- Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Dark Knight) as Elizabeth “Zee”
- Kevin James (King of Queens) as Police Officer Landers
- Nick Cannon (Wild n Out) as Police Officer Lister
- Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) as Reginald “Skull” Skulinski
- Jason Lee (The Incredibles) as Bones
- Catherine O Hara (Home Alone) as Mrs. Walters (credited as “Mom”), D.J.’s mother
- The late and legendary Fred Willard (Anchorman) as Mr. Walters (credited as “Dad”), D.J.’s father
- Kathleen Turner (Baby Geniuses) as Constance “the Giantess” Nebbercracker, Nebbercracker’s wife
This film is a love letter to Goosebumps and is worth watching. That’s all there is to it.
Also, bullying is wrong. Be nice to people because you might get haunted later in life. I am glad Horace was willing to go the distance to care for Constance who spent her life in pain but was blessed to have one person who loved her unconditionally.