Cast/Crew : Directed by Gil Kenan, starring voice talents from Mitchel Musso (Disney), Sam Lerner (Cartoon Network) and Spencer Locke (K-Mart in Resident Evil: Extinction).
Plot: DJ, a 12-year old inquisitive boy, his chubby best friend Chowder, and Jenny find out their neighbour’s house is actually a monster and band together to save the neighbourhood.
• This is a CGI animated *children’s* horror film. I’d immediately make comparisons to Harry Potter, Ron and Hermione (black-haired boy, doofus male friend and bookworm female friend) but I didn’t feel them stealing from JK Rowling watching the film, it’s more just a three friend setup. Especially Jenny has far more personality.
• For a CGI animation, especially a children’s film; it’s remarkably well-made – Perhaps it’s because it’s EPs were Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg (i.e. Back to the Future pairing!). This is not a lavish affair from Disney Pixar, which is likely why it went under the radar.
• From the synopsis, the plot and characters sound very formulaic, but the writing and story progression keep you really interested in the film the whole way through, with a satisfying finish.
• The CG itself is akin to The Incredibles, if it were just set in the suburban town. Nothing spectacular, but more than enough to get the story across.
• The art direction and camera-work itself is all very, very good. Colourful and vibrant cartoony angles, setting the mood with something visually interesting.
• A lot of time and talent went into it’s production and it shows. The characters were animated using performance capture (with the actors), which makes their movement look very natural & smooth. The monster house animation has that wonderful stop-motion feel, emphasised by the crooked lines of the structure; giving it that ‘Nightmare before Christmas’ feel.
• If that doesn’t sell you, living in the monster house is an old coot, who yells at kids to keep off his lawn! What more could you ask for!
Overall : A kid’s tale that is charming, scary and a fun adventure? This one’s definitely worth your time and a few bucks. As a children’s horror film, it over-delivered. If you’re into animations (Incredibles, Ratatouille, Wallace & Gromit etc), definitely watch it. Recommended!