Review: 'The House' a Triptych of Oddball Dreams

by Karin McKie

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday January 14, 2022

'The House'
'The House'  (Source:Netflix)

Netflix's innovative new stop-motion animated triptych "The House" is an adult affair evocative of Edgar Allan Poe. Each offering is hauntingly scored by Gustavo Santaolalla, and the Foley sounds of everyday life are vibrant and specific, including creaking floorboards, construction noises, and sewing machines, as well as needlepoint and important document signing.

Writer Enda Walsh collaborated with three sets of directors for this 90-minute film, all set within the same structure, starting with Belgian directors Emma de Swaef and Marc Roels for story number one.

"And heard within. a lie is spun." The first piece is set in the 1800s, where struggling Raymond (voiced by Matthew Goode) is visited by his judgmental older relatives (including Miranda Richardson as Aunt Clarice), who shame the poverty his lives in with his wife and two young daughters. He takes an offer from an otherworldly architect to have a grand house built for him and his family — the titular house. He soon learns that things that sound too good to be true should be questioned, as the manse become an evolving, restrictive maze. The new occupants are given elaborate clothes to reflect their new stations, while experiencing gaslighting under the new-fangled gaslights. The players are animated in delicate felt fabric, which shows mottled white skin (that matches the British character of the British voices throughout), framed by softly knitted eyebrows.

The second story, directed by Niki Lindroth von Bahr, is set in the same house during present day, slated with "Then lost is truth that can't be won." A house-flipping rat is anxious to finish his rehab and make a quick sale. While living alone in the basement during renovation, he discovers an underlying infestation that he attempts to eradicate before the open house. On the surface, his house has high-end finishes, including a large tank with a sassy tang fish in the living room, but there's something brewing underneath. A highly choreographed "Bugs-by Berkeley" dance by his squatters asserts who actually controls the property.

Climate change has visited the house in the near future, where landlady (and cat) Rosa rents out rooms in the now-crumbling mansion, in director Paloma Baeza's third installment, "Listen again and seek the sun." Water rises incrementally around the building and fog obscures the landscape. Rosa's good-natured but slacker tenants aren't paying rent and are cannibalizing the floorboards to build boats. Hippie-dippie Jen (always hilarious Helena Bonham Carter) and her visiting throat-singing boyfriend Cosmos, wearing Captain Jack Sparrow-like beard adornments, inject some joy and hope into the inevitable entropy.

The song over the closing credits asserts that "a house if nothing but a big collection of bricks," but this quirky, fuzzy new animated foray underscores that a house is indeed its inhabitants, seasoned with their disappointments and dreams.

"The House" streams on Netflix starting January 14.

Karin McKie is a writer, educator and activist at KarinMcKie.com

Streaming Reviews

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