By: Amanda Guarragi
The House is an eccentric dark comedy about a house and the three surreal tales of the individuals who made it their home. The story is structured in three parts, it is an anthology series directed by the leading voices in independent stop motion animation: Emma de Swaef and Mark Roels, Niki Lindroth von Bahr and Paloma Baeza and produced by Nexus Studios. The stop motion animation is so life-like that it was incredible to watch these characters on screen. There was such fluidity from scene to scene and each story was meaningful. The house itself goes through three sets of characters, hence why it is broken down into three parts:
Story 1, directed by Marc James Roelds and Emma de Swaef is set in the 1800s. We meet a family who has been struggling financially: Raymond (Matthew Goode), Penelope (Claudie Blakley), Mabel (Mia Goth) and Isobel. Raymond’s family members who are a part of high society visit Raymond to meet his newborn, Isobel. During their visit, they are condescending and comment on Raymond’s current living situation. These comments make Raymond spiral out of control and he ends up making a poor decision. Without giving much away, the moral of the story is that being materialistic will make you miserable and make you lose sight of the important things.
Story 2, directed by Niki Lindroth von Bahr brings the house into the present day, where we meet a harassed contractor who is trying to make a quick sale from a renovation. This contractor – who is also a mouse – has turned this house into a beautiful, modern-day home, but he has no one to share his success with. The house looks perfect, but if you look closely, through the cracks, there are things that begin to surface. This is similar to The Developer’s facade, when trying to make the sale. There are some questionable guests who come for the open house and The Developer begins to see what truly lies beneath the surface.
Story 3, directed by Paloma Baeza is set in the near future, where the house survives a hugely changed landscape. We meet Rosa (Susan Wokoma), a young landlady determined to stay in her beloved crumbling house and restore it to its former glory. She has a very strained relationship with her tenants and doesn’t have a friendship really have a friendship with them. The house becomes much more than just four walls and a roof to Rosa, to the point where she loses sight of the important things. For one thing, not having anyone to share those joyous moments within the home that she so desperately wants to build.
The House has stunning stop-motion animation that has left me quite speechless. Every single setting looked authentic and the animation brought the house to life. Whether it was the exterior of the house, individual rooms, or even the furniture, it looked so realistic. Even the characters; whether they were humans, mice, or cats, they looked so real and even their facial expressions presented such strong emotions. The voice actors also did a wonderful job to present these emotions through their line delivery. Each story had a lesson and beautiful things can come out of dark, obscure stories, especially with the vast amount of creativity that shines through in animated projects.
The House will premiere on Netflix Friday, January 14th.