In THE HOUSE, four directors come together to produce three beautiful stop-motion animation stories that are delightfully weird. While I hoped a central theme would tie these disparate stories together, I nonetheless found them enjoyable and affecting.
The film is told in three chapters; past, present, and future; and set in different worlds. What they have in common is they are all set in the same house. In Chapter One, a poor family in the 1800s is invited to live in a luxurious home built by a mysterious architect at no cost, at least not a cost that involves money. In Chapter Two, set in a world of anthropomorphic rats, a developer struggles to restore an old mansion so he can flip it, only to find himself saddled with unwelcome guests. And in Chapter Three, set in a world of anthropomorphic cats, a landlady dreams of restoring her house to its former glory in an apocalyptic, flooded landscape that appears destined to have the last say.
Voiced by terrific British artists, the characters fairly reek of charm, as does the stop-motion animation style. The stories, however, are fairly dark except for the last. Overall, they’re immersive and just plain fun to watch. The cat story, in particular, was cute as hell.
Thematically, THE HOUSE struggles. The film features a device, the house itself, but otherwise lacks a foundation tying it together. As for the stories themselves, I’m not even sure what they were individually trying to say, apart from maybe the third. A stronger theme might have elevated THE HOUSE into something grander, but as it is, I enjoyed it quite a bit. It’s a charming and enjoyable watch.