During the month of October, the staff here at Nerds and Beyond are sharing some of our favorite spooky cinema selections each day to get into the spirit of Halloween. Today’s family friendly recommendation is Monster House.
This movie is rated PG for some mildly off-color humor, and at some points, it might be a little dark and scary for younger kids. I watched with my upper elementary and middle school aged kids, and they were glued to the screen the entire time. (That is quite a feat for an animated movie to keep an apathetic middle schooler interested.) This 3-D animated film is stylized to give it a sort of claymation feel.
The story focuses on two young (probably about 12 or 13-years-old) characters, DJ (Mitchell Musso) and Chowder (Sam Lerner), and their grumpy old neighbor across the street, Mr. Nebbercracker (Steve Buscemi). We learn early in the movie that Mr. Nebbercracker hates when kids come on his lawn and bother him, especially on Halloween. After a confrontation with Mr. Nebbercracker, DJ thinks he accidentally killed the old man and starts to see the house do strange things, like blink and call them on the phone. The boys are convinced the house is haunted and has come to life. When they try to convince the adults who are around, no one believes them. The house starts threatening them and even kidnaps their babysitter’s boyfriend. They enlist the help of a neighborhood girl named Jenny (Spencer Locke) to help them stop the house from its evil plot before Halloween.
There are plenty of scary parts in this movie, but even the scary parts are visually stunning. The animation of the house truly turns it into a monster. Its boards separate and become jagged teeth. Its windows glare like evil eyes. The barren trees along side the house become arms to grab kids or, at one point, even legs to chase them.
Along with the chills and thrills, the movie also offers some laughs when the boys try to impress Jenny. There are two bumbling police officers (Kevin James and Nick Cannon) who get called to the scene to investigate what the kids are doing at the house while the owner isn’t there. There are also some truly sad moments. When Mr. Nebbercracker reappears, we see that he is not dead, just hospitalized. We learn what happened to his wife — who is actually the spirit possessing the house — that turned her into the bitter, angry monster that gobbles up children. Mr. Nebbercracker decides to help them stop his wife’s (and also his house’s) reign of terror.
The movie has a little bit of everything and it will keep kids and adults on the edge of their seat wondering what will happen next.
If you are looking for an animated movie to watch for Halloween, check out Monster House.