Monster House (film)

Monster House (film)
Monster House
Directed by Gil Kenan
Produced by Jack Rapke
Steve Starkey
Robert Zemeckis
Steven Spielberg
Screenplay by Dan Harmon
Rob Schrab
Pamela Pettler (screenplay)
Story by Dan Harmon
Rob Schrab
Starring Mitchel Musso
Sam Lerner
Spencer Locke
Steve Buscemi
Maggie Gyllenhaal
Music by Douglas Pipes
Cinematography Paul C. Babin
Editing by Fabienne Rawley
Studio Relativity Media
Amblin Entertainment
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date(s) July 21, 2006 (2006-07-21)
Running time 101 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $75 million
Box office $140,175,006

Monster House is a 2006 computer animated motion capture horror/comedy film produced by ImageMovers and Amblin Entertainment, and distributed by Columbia Pictures. Executive produced by Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg, this is the first time since Back to the Future Part III that they have worked together. It is also the first time that Zemeckis and Spielberg both served as executive producers of a film. The film's characters are animated primarily utilizing performance capture, making it the second film to use the technology so extensively, following producer Robert Zemeckis' The Polar Express.



12-year-old DJ Walters (Mitchel Musso) spies on his neighbor, Mr. Nebbercracker, (Steve Buscemi), who takes any item that lands in his yard. DJ's parents (Catherine O'Hara and Fred Willard) leave town for the weekend for a convention, leaving him in the care of Elizabeth "Zee", (Maggie Gyllenhaal). Charles "Chowder" (Sam Lerner), DJ's best friend, loses his basketball on Nebbercracker's lawn. DJ tries to recover it but is caught by Nebbercracker, who rages at him before apparently suffering a heart attack and being taken away in an ambulance. That night, DJ receives phone calls from Nebbercracker's house. He enlists Chowder's help to investigate the house. DJ eavesdrops on Zee's boyfriend Bones (Jason Lee), who tells Zee about losing his kite on Nebbercracker's lawn when he was younger. Later, Bones sees his long-lost kite in the doorway of the house, but is consumed by the house as he tries to retrieve it.

The next morning, a girl named Jenny Bennet (Spencer Locke) is on the street selling Halloween chocolates. DJ and Chowder see her going to Nebbercracker's house, and they rush out to warn her, managing to catch her before she is eaten by the house. Jenny decides to call for the police, but when police officers Landers and Lester (Kevin James and Nick Cannon) arrive, they do not believe their story, as the house does not react to the kids' teasing while the cops are there.

The trio seek advice from Reginald "Skull" Skulinski (Jon Heder), a strange video-game addict working in a pizza parlor who is claimed to be an expert on killing monsters. They learn that the house is a "domus mactabilis" (Latin for "deadly home"); a monstrous being created when a human soul merges with a structure. They assume the house is inhabited by Nebbercracker's soul. The only way to kill the house is to destroy its heart; its source of life. They conclude that the heart must be the fireplace, as DJ realizes that the chimney has been smoking since Nebbercracker died. Chowder provides a dummy filled with drugs that should cause the house to sleep long enough for them to douse the furnace. The plan almost succeeds, but Officers Landers and Lester (Kevin James and Nick Cannon) thwart it. Landers discovers the cold medicine inside the dummy, which Chowder took from his father's pharmacy, and arrest them. The cops place the trio in the police car while they examine the house. The house eats Landers, Lester, and the car. DJ, Chowder, and Jenny escape the car but are trapped in the house.

The house falls asleep and they begin exploring. They fall into the basement and find a locked cage that DJ opens with a key he found on Nebbercracker's lawn. They find the body of Constance the Giantess (Kathleen Turner), Nebbercracker's wife, covered in cement. The house realizes they are inside and begins attacking them. DJ, Chowder, and Jenny force the house to vomit them outside by grabbing onto its uvula. The trio are surprised when Nebbercracker arrives home alive, but with his arm in a sling, revealing that the house is possessed by Constance. Nebbercracker reveals that as a young man he met Constance, who was an unwilling member of a circus sideshow, and fell in love with her despite her obesity. After helping her escape, she and Nebbercracker began building the house. One Halloween, as children tormented her due to her size, Constance lost her footing and fell to her death in the foundations of the house, with the cement burying her body. Nebbercracker finished the house following Constance's death, knowing it was what she would have wanted. Aware that Constance's vengeful spirit made the house come alive, Nebbercracker tried to keep people away by pretending to be a child-hating old man.

DJ tells Nebbercracker it is time to let Constance go, but she overhears. Constance breaks free from the house's foundation and chases the group to a nearby construction site. Nebbercracker attempts to convince Constance that she should die while holding a stick of dynamite, but Constance refuses. As she tries to eat him, Chowder fights the house off with a back hoe, causing her to fall into a pit. DJ is given the dynamite, and he and Jenny climb to the top of a crane while Chowder distracts Constance. DJ throws the dynamite into the chimney, destroying the house and Constance. The trio see Nebbercracker with Constance's spirit for the last time before she fades away. DJ apologizes to Nebbercracker for the loss of his house and wife, but Nebbercracker thanks DJ for freeing him and Constance after 45 years of being trapped. That night, children in their Halloween costumes are lined up at the site of Nebbercracker's house, where DJ, Chowder, and Jenny help him return all of the toys to their owners. Jenny's parents pick her up and DJ and Chowder decide to go out trick-or-treating, which they had previously thought they were too old for.

As the credits roll, those who were eaten in the house emerge from the basement.


  • Mitchel Musso as DJ Walters, a 12 year old boy, who is known for spying on Nebbercracker through a telescope. He acts, and is treated, like a younger boy and is often thought crazy.
  • Sam Lerner as Charles "Chowder", DJ's best friend. He has a habit of acting slightly strange and immature throughout the film and seems to have an unstable home life.
  • Spencer Locke as Jennifer "Jenny" Bennett, an intelligent 13 year old girl who attends an all-girls school named Westbook Prep. Both DJ and Chowder have crushes on her, although she only returns DJ's affections.
  • Steve Buscemi as Horace Nebbercracker, an old man and former "demolition squad" expert who lives across the street from DJ. He is known for stealing anything that lands on his lawn.
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal as Elizabeth "Zee", DJ's rude and sarcastic teenage babysitter. Zee pretends to be a sweet girl who likes listening to songs by Olivia Newton-John for parents, when she's really that of a punk or Gothic look, and a huge fan of a band called 'SkullxBones'.
  • Catherine O'Hara and Fred Willard as Mr. and Mrs. Walters, DJ's parents.
  • Jason Lee as Bones, Zee's boyfriend. He takes great pleasure in torturing DJ, and according to Zee, is in a band.
  • Jon Heder as Reginald "Skull" Skulinski, a videogame-crazed comic geek who once played on an arcade game for 4 days on one quarter, a gallon of chocolate milk and an adult diaper.
  • Kevin James and Nick Cannon as Officers Landers and Lester. Landers is an experienced cop with an easygoing, joking manner while Lester is a rookie on his first week.
  • Kathleen Turner as Constance the Giantess/Mrs. Nebbercracker, an enormous woman who featured in a circus's freak show in the 1950s. Throughout her life, children ridiculed Constance because of her size, causing her to develop an intense hatred for children and everyone.


Performance capture

The film was made in performance capture, which the actors/actresses did all the movement by themselves, wearing wet suits, with sensors glued to their bodies. The movement was then transferred into a computer, and animation took place around their bodies. All of the props were made out of a wire material to also be animated. Although the background was completely animated in CGI.

This process was pioneered by Robert Zemeckis on his film The Polar Express, also produced by Sony Pictures Imageworks.[1]


"Halloween" by Siouxsie and the Banshees plays over the credits. Velvet Revolver had announced that they were contributing a song entitled "The House is Alive" to the movie but is not included. The song was rumored to appear on their album Libertad, but it was not included. Fountains of Wayne wrote a song entitled "Monster House" for the movie which also was not used, but it may appear in their next album or the movie soundtrack album.

The score utilizes a large orchestra, as well as piano, percussions, electronic sampled sounds, and the electronic instrument known as the theremin.

The Japanese pop-rock band Ikimono Gakari sung the theme song "Seishun no Tobira" in the Japan version of the film.

Digital 3-D version

As with The Polar Express, a stereoscopic 3-D version of the film was created and had a limited special release in digital 3-D stereo along with the "flat" version. While The Polar Express was produced for the 3-D IMAX 70mm giant film format, Monster House was released in approximately 200 theaters equipped for new REAL D Cinema digital 3-D stereoscopic projection. The process was not based on film, but was purely digital. Since the original source material was "built" in virtual 3-D, it created a very rich stereoscopic environment. For the film's release, the studio nicknamed it Imageworks 3D.[2]


The film grossed $73,661,010 in the United States and Canada, and its worldwide gross is $140,175,006.[3]

The Rotten Tomatoes film-critics aggregate site gave the film 74% positive reviews.[4] Michael Medved called it "ingenious" and "slick, clever [and] funny" while also cautioning parents about letting small children see it due to its scary and intense nature, adding that a "PG-13 rating" would have been more appropriate than its "PG rating."[5] Dissenting critics included Frank Lovece of Film Journal International, who praised director Gil Kenan as "a talent to watch" but berated the "internal logic [that] keeps changing.... DJ's parents are away, and the house doesn't turn monstrous in front of his teenage babysitter, Zee. But it does turn monstrous in front of her boyfriend, Bones. It doesn't turn monstrous in front of the town's two cops until, in another scene, it does."[6]

The American Film Institute nominated Monster House for its Top 10 Animated Films list.[7]

Video game

A tie-in Monster House video game was developed by A2M and published by THQ.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "The Animation of Monster House". Lost in the Plot. Retrieved 2007-06-05. 
  2. ^ For more info on the 3D technology used for Sony ImageWorks Monster House, visit:
  3. ^ Monster House at Box Office Mojo
  4. ^ Monster House at Rotten Tomatoes
  5. ^ Michael Medved: Movie Minute
  6. ^ Monster House
  7. ^ AFI's 10 Top 10 Ballot
  • Columbia Pictures press release titled "Monster House: July 21, 2006" (offline)

External links

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