Paperhouse (1988)   3/53/53/53/53/5


Charlotte Burke in Paperhouse (1988)

What Dreams May Come

Having been forced to wait outside the classroom for misbehaving, 11-year-old Anna (Charlotte Burke) has a fainting fit where she finds herself at a remote house in the middle of nowhere, just as she had drawn in a picture. Later on that day whilst bunking off school with a friend she faints again and once again finds herself at this house in the middle of nowhere but can't get in. Back at home having been found by police the doctor suggests a couple of days rest due to a fever which gives Anna more time to draw; firstly placing a boy in the house, then some stairs and finally a drawing of her father who is working overseas. But soon the line blurs between what is real and what is imaginary as she learns her doctor is treating a young boy like the one in the house and the father she drew turned in to a monster.

I would have loved to have seen "Paperhouse" back in 1988, I would have been around 15 and I reckon the perfect age for this curious sort of movie about a child's dreams. I say curious because over the years I have read a few different reviews of the movie and they all seem to pick up on something different to one another. In fact I have come to the point where I believe this movie speaks to people in different ways especially if you are young when you are watching this.

Elliott Spiers in Paperhouse (1988)

So what do I mean; Well when I watched "Paperhouse" and Anna introduces the character of the boy into her drawing he mentions in a dream that he was sent there. So do we have some sense that Anna is feeling that this dream is some sort of punishment for her. Yet my friend pointed out that maybe this is a shared dream with the boy who is the doctor's patient and it is he who feels like being left in the house is a punishment. Then on top of that we have Anna drawing in her dad who behind a smile seems to be a scary monster. What is that all about? Does Anna have some deeply held bad memory of her father. It is why I am sure "Paperhouse" is open to interpretation as to what the meaning of what happens actually means.

Now director Bernard Rose has a very strong style and the whole minimalist look of this dream house certainly has the ability to take you aback, stripping layers away to create some surprisingly effective imagery. Sometimes I feel like more would have been better but there is no denying that he had a vision and stuck to it in a times an unrelenting way.

What this all boils down to is that "Paperhouse" is a curious movie which because of it being open to interpretation may work for some better than it does for others. Whether or not the creativity and horror works for you there is no denying that it is visually striking.


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