The house is the symbol of a safe refuge, a place to hide away from the difficulties of the outside world. Often it forms a combination with family, loved ones ready to give the necessary support when things take a bad turn. A place capable of transforming itself into a distressing trap when it is seized by negative sensations, pervaded by the worst impulses of those who live there, unhinging its peaceful essence. The home thus becomes the worst place on the planet, feeding and enlarging an irrepressible evil ready to explode in a catastrophic event.
The House is an original and disturbing story of damnation available in streaming – here you will find all the films released in January 2022 on Netflix – an animated film made gloomy by the stop-motion technique, in which three stories set in distant eras intertwine inside a cursed house. Work of three different directors, that pervade their plots with peculiar styles of horrorcapable of surprising and uncomfortable, unraveling in a never univocal narrative that lets itself go in an uncertain and dreamy ending.
The pact with the devil
The film begins as a dark tale, in an unspecified year of the 19th century. A small family lives in a dilapidated house within a large plot of land: Raymond, the father and head of the family, he is entangled in a despondency that laps with depression because of the impoverishment in which it pours. During a nocturnal walk in the woods surrounding his home, while he is disposing of the after-effects of a raging hangover, he meets a mysterious benefactor who seems to appear out of nowhere.
The man is the architect Van Shoonbeek, and proposes to him the construction of a new house for him and his family without asking for anything in return. Raymond can only accept the proposal, and the works begin immediately, allowing him to leave his old home to move into a sumptuous and ever-changing villa. However, dark forces seem to hover around the structure and the events inside are stained by an evil that will continue to echo among the boards of the residence for centuries to come.
Anthology of horror
The House it is composed of three different stories, each of which lasts about thirty minutes, preparing itself as a disconnected tale in which the only point of union is the House of the title. In addition to the plots, separated by entire centuries, the sensations caused by the images are also different, tracing distinct types of horror which turn out to be always unique and successful.
The first chapter, baroque and fundamentalist, is a classic short film based on the restlessness caused by unexplained events but somehow obviously evil. It tells the origins of a house that will never make anyone happy, despite the good will of the owners, who succumb in a short time to the desperation that seems to nourish the house. The second narrative is instead set in the contemporary period; the protagonist is a mouse with anthropomorphic features that has modernized the house transforming it into a real living jewel, and is now ready to sell it. Unfortunately for him an insect infestation seems relentless and the arrival of two very strange buyers pervades the story of a disturbing and disgusting atmosphere. The film’s ending differs from the immediately recognizable tones of horror, but is based on the loneliness and terror of abandonment that follows.
Now the house is an apartment building in the middle of nowhere, a safety beacon on the verge of disappearing, in the middle of a boundless sea created following a flood. The owner – this time a humanoid cat – goes to great lengths to rearrange the house, but her only two tenants are unable to pay her, and dreams of better times are repeatedly broken by a building that seems to reject her. .
From hope to despair
The different stories of The House they all follow the same type of evolution: the protagonist – and momentary owner of the House – begins his adventure with a positive spirit despite the difficulty of his situation. His is almost a revenge against the world that tries to crush him, and sees in the home the means by which to stand up against unsolved problems. But the mansion accepts no one but its architect – a sort of diabolical emanation with dark motives – and in a short time the owner’s hope. turns into gloomy despairwhile the building spits it out as if it were an abusive inhabitant.
In its tracing the story of a cursed building, The House steals a lot from the myth of the genre, and especially in the first episode the inspiration that from the Overlook Hotel in Shining creeps into the rooms of the House is evident built by Van Shoonbeek. The last episode differs from this story of “rise before the fall”, at least apparently: here the narrative contours are enveloped by the doubts of a fog that has something ethereal, spontaneously raising questions about the good-natured nature of an ending that remains difficult to explain.
A unique style
What is most striking about The Housein addition to the charm of three unique stories, is the originality of the aesthetic inspiration.
Stop-motion is not a simple artifice to amuse the ego of different directors, but it is a real means of expression which adds a strong charge of disquiet to the images. The photography of the interior of the House also stands out: the lights are managed with great care and make the evolution of feelings well of hope or despair we talked about earlier. Consequently, it is evident that a good central idea has been embellished by the excellent inputs coming from the technical departments, and among them a phenomenal soundtrack also shines. The genius of Gustavo Santaolalla – the emotional charge of Ellie and Joel’s journey owes a lot to the power of his music, in a work that we have analyzed in our special on the message broadcast by The Last of Us Part 2 – has now elevated him to the status of Maestro, and his plucked notes manage to make this film vibrate with a unique energy of its kind, making these “simple” stories of a haunted house unforgettable.