Monster House (2006) is a movie that gives you a little of that Mountain Dew + 3 Musketeer-fueled jitters and excitability of childhood Halloweens fondly remembered. The film revolves around three children on the cusp of adolescence and a creepy house occupied by a similarly creepy old guy. The old guy doesn’t like kids to come near his house, and this makes the kids all the more curious. Meanwhile, the house itself seems to be…alive.
DJ, one of these kids, lives directly across from the creepy house and he is an especially inquisitive sort who suspects that the old guy, and perhaps the house itself, is up to something. DJ’s best friend is Chowder, a rotund ball of goofy energy who makes me think of what Jack Burton’s (from Big Trouble in Little China) younger self might have been. The third of the main characters is Jenny, a go-getter student from an all girl’s prep school with cunning business sense when she goes house-to-house to sell “back-up” Halloween candy. These three, along with some of the other characters, including the babysitter (voiced by Maggie Gyllenhaal), are great fun as Monster House boasts some funnier and sharper dialogue than usual for an animated movie. In fact, the whole first act of the movie sets itself up for true greatness, something that the latter parts can’t quite live up to, although the movie still offers much to enjoy.
In short, Monster House goes from being a great film to a pretty good one. One of the problems, a common one among creepy, mysterious movies (even fun ones), is that that the set-up is often stronger than the resolution due to the element of the viewer’s imagination being able to produce something far eerier and more psychologically satisfying for the individual than another person (the screenwriter) usually can.
Another, more minor problem, is the two cop characters. The humor mostly fell flat for me with these two, and they seemed piped in from another, lesser movie. Still, even with these complaints, this is still a good, enjoyable movie, and a great one for most ages around Halloween (very young children might find this scary).
Rating: *** (out of ****): Good