Review by: Topo Sanchez
SCUM Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
I have always loved hunting down bizarre and strange films, and when I saw Nobuhiko Obayashi’s House sitting on the video library shelf, I knew it had my name on it. And lo and behold, it definitely did not disappoint in the Bizarre department. This film is crazy with a capital C, R and A!
Imagine a 6-year-old child tripping on acid for the very first time while riding a tricycle backwards inside a carnival horror house. Hand him a video camera and what you get at the end will be House.
The premise of the story is pretty simple. Oshare (Gorgeous) is supposed to spend her summer holiday with her dad, but daddy springs a surprise by bringing along his new girlfriend. Upset with daddy for getting over mommy so quickly, Gorgeous initiates Plan B and visits her auntie, together with 6 other friends – Fantasy (daydreamer), Mac (glutton), Sweet (likes to do house chores), Melody (musician), Prof (smart ass), Kungfu (female Bruce Lee).
On the way to Auntie’s house, they befriend a cute little white cat called Snowflake, who unfortunately is not as innocent and cute as it seems. Upon reaching Auntie’s house, they present a watermelon as a gift, but Auntie’s fridge doesnt seem to be working. So they decide to keep the watermelon cool the old fashioned way, by lowering it into a well.
The madness begins in the afternoon, when Mac goes to fetch the watermelon from the well and mysteriously disappears. Fantasy decides to search for her, only to be greeted by Mac’s decapitated head flying towards her and biting her ass! From here on, its a no-holds barred experimental session for the director, who employed quite possibly every single camera technique known to the human race, and perhaps even invented a few of his own along the way. (I especially like the pendulum effect of swinging the camera)
Apparently, Auntie is actually a ghost pining for the return of her dead husband from the world war, and spends her time eating up young girls while waiting. Snowflake the cat is her trusted sidekick – not only does it know how to turn on the traps in the room with one gaze, it uses its cuteness to lure more human ‘food’ into the house. One by one, the girls are devoured by the house in the wildest and most absurd manner imaginable (or unimaginable). Melody is chomped up by a piano, Sweet is attacked by a flying mattress, Gorgeous is trapped in the mirror. Expect dancing skeletons, flying household items, burning porcelain faces and a banana transmutation. (!?)
I dont think words can accurately describe the level of insanity and bizzarro found in this film. Its the kind of film that gets the whole gamut of reactions from the audience, boredom, confusion, laughter and then maybe a standing ovation. Not sure if this information helps to explain the film, but in the bonus feature of the DVD, we learnt that prior to making House, Obayashi had consulted his 11-year-old daughter on what she found to be frightening, and House was made in accordance to his daughter’s exact descriptions. That’s probably how he managed to mix the scary, the absurd and the cute all in one.
So if you are looking for a refreshing and surreal movie that’s totally unpredictable, its time to do your House visit.