A house is meant to be a safe space. Whether you’re living alone or with others, your house keeps you warm and comfortable and safe from the dangers outside. Until it doesn’t. Netflix’s The House depicts three surreal tales of comedy mixed with horror that are so bizarre it’ll make your jaw drop. The house the individuals within these stories reside in find themselves in peculiar situations with an odd twist at the end that’s enough to send a shiver down your spine.
Without giving too much of the plot of each story away, I’ll briefly describe what they’re all about. Story one is about a family who lives in a small cottage in the woods. One night the father makes a deal with a mysterious figure for a new home, but at what cost? Story two is of a mouse who’s doing home renovations but the house is infested with roaches. Two potential buyers show interest in the home but there’s something a bit off about them. The final story is of a landlord who can’t seem to part with their building despite it being surrounded by water and constantly flooding.
What drew me into this work of art was the animation style. You’ll notice immediately that it looks and feels a lot like the film Fantastic Mr Fox. The stop motion animation may throw some people off at first but once you settle down into the film, you don’t even notice it anymore because you’re so engrossed with the storyline. At times it felt like I was watching people in costumes because the animation was so smooth. The last stop motion of this type that I’d seen was actually in fact Fantastic Mr Fox so it was impressive to see how far the genre has come since I saw the movie in 2009. Despite the fact that the humans look somewhat unnerving, the style alone is a masterpiece and it’s gorgeous to watch it in motion.
If you’re a fan of Edgar Allan Poe, you’ll notice that the three stories have a very macabre feel to it. Each of the tales have a twist that instill shock or horror to the beholder and it feels very much like how Poe would often write his stories. Yes, it’s comedy mixed with horror but the twist is what gets you; you’re left confused and horrified but in a good way because you weren’t expecting it to happen. While the third story is less horrific, it still gives off a sense of dread and hopelessness, leaving you with a pit in your stomach. It’s top notch storytelling and the implementation of the Edgar Allan Poe feel to it is the icing on the cake.
While I do feel there are many morals and themes happening within the stories, I think the main lesson (and I could be very wrong about this) is to be thankful for what you have and accept the life you were given. Greed seems to be the biggest theme, however, and it becomes clear to the viewer in the stories how greed plays a part. Though this message (thankfulness and acceptance) doesn’t necessarily suit one of the tales, there are other themes that could be better suited for it. There are elemental aspects to it which you’ll see for yourself if you watch the film, and concepts from all three stories are used throughout. As for the house itself, it’s like how the saying goes: “Be grateful for the home you have, knowing that at this moment, all you have is all you need” (Sarah Ban Breathnach).
Even though I had my reservations about this film, it didn’t disappoint me in the end. Incredible storytelling, animation and that spine tingling feel it leaves you with is what made this movie thought provoking and a fantastic watch.
The House is available to stream on Netflix January 14.