‘The House’ Series Review: Magical or Cursed?

'The House' Series Review: Magical or Cursed?

‘The House’ is the new stop motion series streaming on Netflix starting January 14. This show stars Helena Bonham Carter, Matthew Goode, Claudie Blakley, among other cast members who lend their voices to fantastic characters.

Generally, ‘The House’ feels like three individual titles set over different periods, all mashed up together, with each of the tales following its own unique story.

However, these three threads are linked together by the house as audiences learn that the occupants of the title structure are granted the freedom to be and do whatever it is that they desire as long as they adhere to the house rules and regulations to the T.

Each part of the series is directed by professionals in the stop motion animation field, including Ema de Swaef and Marc James Roel, who team up for the first part titled ‘And Heard Within: A Lie is Spun’ that introduces the titular house.

The two scribes craft an eerie atmosphere, paying close attention to every detail in the establishment and the accessories found in it.

'The House' Series Review

The puppets and their little shiny eyes especially add an extra oomph to the surrounding, making it even creepier.

Swedish director Niki Lindroth von Bahr penned the segment that takes the story to the current day titled ‘Then Lost Is Truth That Can’t Be Won.’

Bahr’s signature humor is fully on display in this program as the series ventures deeper and deeper into a darker world.

Paloma Baeza takes over the concluding chapter titled ‘Listen Again and Seek The Sun’, which takes the narrative to a grim apocalyptic future featuring a flooded wasteland.

While every other structure seems to have been swept away or submerged underwater, ‘The House’ remains, well, the last house standing which, to be honest, is quite creepy, or maybe the foundation was pretty strong!

The melancholic screenplay is penned by Enda Walsh, while the score is crafted by Gustavo Santaolalla.

When it comes to the physical outlook of this show, there is a combination of bright and dark hues. There are dramatic characters as well as silly ones, which are all combined for the anthology series.

Unlike the usual animation style that uses two- or three-dimensional computer techniques, ‘The House’ opts for one of the most challenging animation techniques, namely, stop motion.

The series is a quirky project boasting a well-established and variety of voice actors, packed with immense hilarious moments and well-written jokes, and generally appeals to audiences of all ages.

‘The House’, though, is not your classic kind of anthology per se as there isn’t that one particular story being told throughout the show but rather a trio of standalone that are interconnected by the house itself.

Despite the fact that each of these narratives has its own style and tone, one can generally classify them in the horror-comedy genre.

Not only are the episodes insanely bone-chilling, but they are also cringe-worthy at times. However, despite this combination, there is plenty of humor to balance everything out; hence instead of finding oneself scared to the bone, ribs might end up aching for days from laughter.

One of the perks of this show is that it is more focused on the characters and developing them so audiences can understand and relate to them rather than putting the spotlight on the surrounding.

The house, which is the primary location, ends up playing the role that allows for self-reflection rather than a space where some otherworldly creatures take refuge.

This program explores a series of themes, including love, anxiety, guilt, and revenge, and each episode tries to make sure the specific aspect it addresses comes out clearly by the end of the episode.

The way the show is structured allows for great flexibility, enabling the direction to transition smoothly from one episode to the next. However, the overall effect can be distracting at times.

Staying true to the anthology style narrative structure and the weirdness that’s custom to projects from the streaming giant ‘The House’ manages to construct its own outlandish world, which is fantastic.

If one were to describe the entire series in a nutshell, it’s quite an impressive mouthful. 

It addresses death both literally and figuratively. It tackles the most feared aspect by all human beings, the growing older and dying younger.

It also puts the microscope on how humans try to fill up the emptiness in their lives regardless of what causes it and highlights the hard truth that the material possessions that many think would bring happiness into their lives don’t usually fulfill that particular aspect.

All three stories feature characters who are so obsessed with the house that they forget that having a structure under one’s roof doesn’t make it a home; however fancy it looks if the occupants of that residence aren’t happy living there.

Being a stop motion kind of a series, sometimes it feels like one is watching dry paint on the walls, and the incredibly slow pacing, coupled with the murmuring ambient music, can, to some extent, make this series hard to watch.

The voice actors deliver astounding performances, starting with Helen as the flibbertigibbet Jen. However, Wokoma’s voice as the positive-minded Rosa is what adds emotional weight to the show.

Besides all this, though, watching the characters grapple on a secluded island as they await their inevitable fate is quite mesmerizing.

Overall, the animation is fantastic, the characters are excellently designed and developed, and their expressions and mannerisms are clear as day. The sets are gorgeously done, and the lighting is just perfect.

Combining all these amazing aspects results in a surprisingly endearing show that makes the viewing experience interesting and tolerable. 

In addition to reminding audiences that despite all the stunts and CGI, stop motion is still an art, just like any other. Despite being a tediously long process, it still generates excellent outcomes.

‘The House’ is a great series worth checking out as not only is the story great, one gets the chance to appreciate the movie-making process involved, and for this, it’s worth a shot.

SCORE:7/10