Wednesday, 30 March 2011

15 Genre Gems That You Probably Missed #3 - PAPERHOUSE

Anna is a young girl on the edge of puberty with concerns over her parents relationship and a streak of rebellion about her. She draws a house and finds that she can enter into that drawing into a world where there is a young boy who can give her solace, but a world that also contains terrible threats.

Anyone who thinks that PAN'S LABYRINTH  was startlingly original (which it was), should take a look at this 1988 movie which has many scenes and themes that foreshadow Guillermo Del Toro's masterpiece.

As with all classic gothic horror pieces, the film plays with what is real and what is the creation of fevered dreams, perhaps brought about by an awakening of sexual potential.

It is the world of the paperhouse that really impresses. The production design is excellent with slanted camera angles and heightened reality caught somewhere between a child's drawing and the real world making it visually exciting as well as utterly convincing.

The performances are also excellent, though low key. The heroine is played by Charlotte Burke as no angelic Hollywood brat. She is smart, sassy, self-absorbed and rebellious. Your regular teenager in fact. Glenne Headley is the mother who doesn't know what to do with her youngster and Ben Cross is a memorably scary monster.

PAPERHOUSE didn't make a splash because it's pitched between age groups. Horror fans will find its bloodless scares weak and it's too dark and layered for the younger audience.

Even so, this is a very fine dark fantasy and well worth picking up for a look.

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