Netflix’s “The House” mixes stop-motion animation and horror

The animation in this three-part film was done by Nexus Studios, an animating and production studio in Los Angeles.

Courtesy of Nexus Studios

The animation in this three-part film was done by Nexus Studios, an animating and production studio in Los Angeles.

Tara Amin, Arts Writer

Released in Jan. 2022, the stop-motion anthology “The House” travels through time and different species to tell the history of a one-of-a-kind house. Throughout the three short films, the viewers uncover the origin and finality of this house.

The different types of attachment the characters of the three films have with the house all can be metaphorical for the worries that come with becoming a homeowner. Anxieties about the controls others have over your home, the invading creatures living amongst the walls, and how obsessiveness can ultimately cost you are all displayed throughout the film. 

The stop-motion element effectively supports the horror elements of the storyline. The design of the characters were purposely intended to appear unsettling, leaving the viewer feeling disturbed from not only the plot but the visuals as well. 

The first of the three films takes place in what can be assumed as a pre-modern world. An alcoholic and greedy father, Raymond, makes a deal with an “architect of great renown” he stumbles across in the woods while in a drunken rage from the belittling behavior towards his family’s cottage from his relatives. 

The architect (Mr. Van Schoonbeek) presents Raymond with the deal that he will build him and his family a completely new and luxurious house under one condition– that Raymond’s family takes residence in the new house. Raymond and his wife accept the deal, wrongfully assuming Mr. Van Schoonbeek was being completely straightforward. 

After moving into their new mansiom, Raymond and his wife are quickly entranced by the extravagance of home and the lifestyle that comes along. Raymond’s eldest daughter, Mabel, is not easily influenced by greed, noticing and being the witness of strange encounters and construction in the house. Workers who appear brain dead as they exist in the darkness and staircases being removed overnight. 

Mabel’s parent’s lives take a shocking turn for the worst when they are gifted new clothing that resembles furniture, by Mr. Van Schoonbeek, convinced the new clothing will increase their status as well. This short film is captivating with what I believe to be a great amount of horror. The events of the first short sets an intriguing and eerie feeling towards the house, similar to that of the first season of the show “American Horror Story.”

In the next short film, the horror aspect of the first does not continue but instead a feeling of discomfort towards the house is solidified in the viewer. Taking place in modern times, an independent and emotionally unstable rat contractor is renovating and modernizing the house, with the hopes of selling it to reverse his financial troubles. He runs into a massive problem along the way–an infestation of fur beetles.

The viewing of the house is in a couple of hours so in a desperate momentary solution, he attempts to kill the visible bugs with a bug killer. The viewing begins and it isn’t looking too bright for the contractor. He becomes increasingly nervous, causing him to continuously diminish his amount of potential buyers and he keeps finding more critters.

The contractor repeatedly attempting to use a bug killer as a momentary solution before the showing of the house left me feeling sympathetic for him. The persistent infestation of the bugs is a sort of parallel to his dedication to the project, the bugs are just as determined as him.

He is approached by a rather odd elderly couple during the showing of the house, who continuously remind him of their interest in the house. As the couple starts to take advantage of the contractor and are practically living in the house, viewer suspicions of the couple are basically confirmed. The addition of the musical number by the infesting critters completely reminded me of Mr. Bobinsky’s dancing mice routine from the movie “Coraline.”

The last film of the story shows the house in what can be interpreted as a post-modern time due to the rising water levels and the air being taken over by mist, leaving the house to be one of the only visible landmarks. A cat named Rosa is the current landlord of the house and is completely obsessed with her vision for the future of the house. Her tenants, Elias and Jen, manage to get by every month without paying proper rent. Rosa learns the valuable lesson that giving up your stubbornness can save you from your demise.

“The House” does its job of being an anthology correctly. Over the course of the three films a consistent story was told while completely changing the characters and time. The switch of species also questions the logic behind the story which allows for the viewer to drive deeper into the seriousness of this film, this movie was intended to be odd and was successful in doing so. I am personally a huge stop-motion fan so seeing this amazing story being told in an aesthetically pleasing style was truly the cherry on top. “The House” is definitely worth a watch.