Friday 12 October 2012

Monster House: Why it's The Best Kids Halloween Film

Monster House  has got to be my favourite kids Halloween film by far. When I settled down in the cinema to watch it a few years ago, I wasn't expecting to be sucked into the 'kid's horror' - but I couldn't help myself. The mixture of peformance capture, humour for adults and kids, and the traditional concept of a haunted house gives it the creepy atmospheric feel that any worthy Halloween film needs.

The film is set in your average American street, where your average pre-teen boys hang around looking for some kind of adventure. Now it could be that I grew up the 80s/90s and my all time favourite film is The Goonies, but I felt that there were several similarities between these two films which, for me, added to the appeal. The cast of Monster House creates a much smaller gang than in the Goonies, consisting of friends DJ and Chowder (in my eyes they are the animated Mikey and Chunk characters) and their love interest Jenny. These two musketeers, with their new friend Jenny, who stumbles into their adventure by coming to DJ's house trying to hard sell cookies, find themselves alone on Halloween with only a bored and unsympathetic teenage babysitter and her loser boyfriend to keep them company. (Brandon?)

To pass the time, they pick up on DJ's growing interest in the crumbly old neighbour, Mr Nebbercracker, and his dilapidated house, which DJ has painstakenly documented  - I sense a Goonie style adventure about to begin!

After top secret monitoring and urinating in drinks bottles, DJ and Chowder become increasingly concerned with Nebbercracker's refusal to let anyone on his property and the odd occurrences that appear to happen there. When the old man ends up in hospital, the strange goings-ons at the house across the street only seem to increase; with objects and even people being sucked in and never returning. Even as an adult I find this creepy - houses that have a life of their own? Stay away you scream, run, go tell a grown up!!! But Zee, the moody babysitter, ignores their cries for help, as does the local law enforcement (they never listened to Chunk either!) So the trio decide to set about solving the scary mystery alone!

As predictable as this all may seem it is the mix of great chacacters, humour and your inner child desperate to join them on this adventure that keeps your bum firmly in your seat throughout the film. It really steps up a gear as the gang progress in their mission and Nebbercracker returns from hospital. Without spoiling anything - this is where we are shown a whole new meaning for the term 'haunted house.' If you are concerned this now sounds too scary for kids fear not, the tragic truth behind the monster house makes a satisfying and sleep-easy ending.  Although there are some great Halloween films for kids out there, Monster House delivers the perfect blend of fun, nostalgia and scare factor, with a little twist of something else. It just goes to show you don't need to hop on your bike these days and ride down to the old abandoned cafe for adventure, you just have to look across the street.

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