Monster House is a 2006 American animated supernatural horror comedy film[3] directed by Gil Kenan in his directorial debut, from a screenplay written by Pamela Pettler and the writing team of Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab. The plot revolves around a neighborhood being terrorized by a sentient haunted house during Halloween. The film features the voices of Mitchel Musso, Sam Lerner, Spencer Locke, Steve Buscemi, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kevin James, Nick Cannon, Jason Lee, Fred Willard, Jon Heder, Catherine O'Hara, and Kathleen Turner.

Monster House
Film poster showing three children standing behind and looking at the haunted house. The tagline "There goes the neighborhood." appears at the top of the poster, and the title and the names of the cast and crew appears at the bottom of the poster.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byGil Kenan
Screenplay by
Story by
Produced by
CinematographyXavier Perez Grobet
Edited by
  • Fabienne Rawley
  • Adam P. Scott
Music byDouglas Pipes
Distributed bySony Pictures Releasing
Release dates
Running time
91 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$75 million[2]
Box office$141.9 million[2]

Produced by Columbia Pictures, Relativity Media, and executive producers Robert Zemeckis' ImageMovers and Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment, the human characters were animated using motion-capture animation, which was previously utilized in Zemeckis' The Polar Express (2004). It was also Sony's first computer-animated film produced by Sony Pictures Imageworks and Relativity's first animated film.[4]

Monster House was released theatrically by Sony Pictures Releasing on July 21, 2006. It received generally positive reviews from critics and grossed $142 million worldwide against a $75 million budget. It received nominations for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and the Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film, but lost to Happy Feet and Cars, respectively.



On the day before Halloween, 12-year-old Dustin James "D.J." Walters documents his elderly neighbor, Horace Nebbercracker, stealing a little girl's tricycle and scaring her away from his house, one of many similar incidents that have occurred. That same day, D.J.'s parents leave for a convention, placing him in the care of his teenage babysitter Elizabeth, or Zee. Later, D.J.'s friend, Charles "Chowder" Peterson, loses his basketball on Nebbercracker's lawn, and D.J. tries to retrieve it. Nebbercracker stops them, then appears to suffer a heart attack and is taken away in ambulance. The boys believe he has died.

When Zee's boyfriend Bones later pays a visit, he recalls the time Nebbercracker stole his kite, as well as relating rumors of him cannibalizing his wife. After Zee kicks him out, Bones notices his kite in the front door of Nebbercracker's house, tries to retrieve it and is abducted. D.J. and Chowder later investigate and learn that the house is possessed by a poltergeist. On Halloween, they save Jennifer "Jenny" Bennett, who is selling candy, from the house. Jenny calls police officers Landers and Lister, but the house stays quiet when the officers arrive and they dismiss the report.

The trio consults supernatural expert Reginald "Skull" Skulinski, who speculates the house must be a rare type of monster created by the fusion of a human's spirit and a man-made object that can only be unbound when its heart is struck. Ascertaining that the presumably-deceased Nebbercracker is the cause, the trio construct a dummy filled with cough syrup Chowder stole from a pharmacy owned by his father. They offer the dummy to the house to eat, hoping to put it to sleep so they can find its "heart" (its furnace). Landers and Lister then inadvertently foil the plan when the former discovers the stolen medicine; as they attempt to arrest the trio, the house soon eats them all. Separated from the officers, the children explore the sleeping house and end up in its basement. They find all the toys Nebbercracker had stolen and a shrine to his wife, Constance the Giantess, whose skeletal remains are encased in cement. The house soon awakens and attacks them, but they trigger its gag reflex by grabbing its uvula equivalent (a chandelier), forcing it to vomit them outside.

Nebbercracker returns from the hospital alive, and reveals that Constance is the ghost. When they first met, Constance was an unwilling participant in a circus freak show who was ridiculed for her obesity. Nebbercracker developed feelings for her, helped her escape, and married her, and begun constructing a house for the. On Halloween, some children began making fun of Constance. She angrily began to chase them off; Nebbercracker tried to stop her, and she fell into the half-finished basement and was suffocated by the wet cement. Nebbercracker finished the house's construction in Constance's memory, but her vengeful spirit soon merged with it. Over the years, Nebbercracker feigned aggression to protect innocent people from her.

D.J. convinces Nebbercracker that they must put Constance to rest. Overhearing this, Constance becomes enraged, uses two trees to lift the house from its foundation, and chases her husband and the children. Nebbercracker tries to comfort Constance and explain everything is for the best, but when she realizes his intent to destroy her with some dynamite, she attacks him. Chowder combats Constance with an excavator from a nearby construction site, into which the trio then lure her. D.J. swings out on a crane's hook with the dynamite, dropping it into chimney and destroying the house. Finally freed, Constance's spirit briefly reunites with Nebbercracker before ascending to the afterlife; he thanks the children for freeing them from their suffering.

In the aftermath, the quartet gather at the house's still-intact basement, returning everything Nebbercracker stole to their rightful owners. During the credits after everyone leaves, the house's victims emerge from the basement unharmed, including Bones, who discovers that Zee is now dating Skull.

Voice cast

Monster House co-stars Sam Lerner, Spencer Locke and Mitchel Musso at the 34th Annie Awards.
  • Mitchel Musso as Dustin James "D.J." Walters
  • Sam Lerner as Charles "Chowder" Peterson
  • Spencer Locke as Jenny Bennett
  • Steve Buscemi as Horace Nebbercracker, D.J.'s elderly neighbor.
  • Kathleen Turner as Constance "The Giantess" Nebbercracker, Nebbercracker's late wife whose vengeful spirit is possessing their house.
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal as Elizabeth "Zee", D.J.'s teenage babysitter.
  • Kevin James as Officer Landers, a police officer.
  • Nick Cannon as Officer Lister, Landers' partner.
  • Jon Heder as Reginald "Skull" Skulinski, a friend of D.J. and Chowder who is an expert on the supernatural and later becomes Zee's current boyfriend
  • Jason Lee as Bones, Zee's ex-boyfriend
  • Fred Willard as D.J.'s father
  • Catherine O'Hara as D.J.'s mother
  • Ryan Newman as Eliza, a little girl
  • Kevin the Dog as himself
  • Jason Huckzo-Summerford as vocal effects of birds



Monster House was initially set up at DreamWorks Animation SKG, based on a pitch by newcomer Gil Kenan.[5] Having just finished film school recently, Kenan had been having meetings with film producers for a while, but hadn't found any success, with a screenplay based on the Pac-Man video game series going unproduced. After Kenan received Dan Harmon's and Rob Schrab's screenplay for ImageMovers, Kenan had a meeting with the head of story Bennett Schneir, where he was able to pitch his vision for the film. Schneir worked for Robert Zemeckis as the head of development at ImageMovers, and Kenan had a meeting with Zemeckis quickly thereafter, apparently due to the filmmakers wanting to get a director for the project as fast as they could. Upon impressing Zemeckis with his pitch, Kenan then had a meeting with Steven Spielberg, where he pitched the film to Spielberg in a presentation with some sketches and drawings he had drawn before meeting Zemeckis.[6] By 2004, the studio put the film in turnaround, after which Sony Pictures Entertainment picked up the project and began production on August 23 of that year.[5]

The original screenplay of Monster House was, in Kenan's words, "absolutely brilliant and laugh-out-loud funny". Due to his experience as a storyteller, Kenan decided to preserve all the characters and the tone from Harmon's and Schrab's story, but added the idea that the titular house was possessed by a soul, leading to the creation of Constance Nebbercracker and the house's backstory. To help him revise the script and introduce Constance and Horace Nebbercracker into the plot, Kenan brought Pamela Pettler after reading her script for Corpse Bride (2005). They worked on the script at her house, and to meet the established deadline, they finished a draft quickly and sent it to Amy Pascal at Sony's Columbia Pictures. As work on the screenplay was underway, in a few months of preparation, Kenan had assembled a team of storyboard artists led by Simeon Wilkins in Studio City, Los Angeles to put up rudimentary boards with scratch dialogue and temporal score, with Khang Lee and Chris Appelhans collaborating on paintings for the film.[6]

The film was shot using motion-capture, in which the actors performed the characters' movement and lines while linked to sensors, a process pioneered by Zemeckis for his film The Polar Express (2004).[7] Zemeckis was in the process of starting filming on The Polar Express when he met Kenan, who visited the set to see how that film was filmed and discussed with Kenan how they would exactly shoot Monster House, deciding that they should prioritize the story before the filming technology, though Kenan always felt that the story should use animation to create a world with a living house, as he opined that making the house a viable threat and character would better work in an animated setting.[6]

The casting for Monster House was a laborious process, especially for the lead trio, who were portrayed by Mitchel Musso, Sam Lerner and Spencer Locke. Kenan agreed with head of animation Troy Saliba that actors were needed to portray the roles in a believable way. Many of the film's artists interpreted the roles on set and enhanced the lead actors through posed animation that drove the exaggerations of their performances to make them feel subtle and real.[6]

Ed Verreaux served as the production designer of Monster House. To design the neighbourhood where the story takes place, Verreaux realized that the film's setting needed to resemble that of 1980s films, like E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982). During his discussions with Harmon and Schrab, Kenan was told that the film's setting was inspired by that of Wisconsin and Minneapolis. Verreaux and Kenan went together on a scouting trip to design the film's locations, which involved a visit to Universal Studios' backlot, during which they were granted access to the suburban street of The 'Burbs (1989), the neighborhood of the show Desperate Housewives and the house of Psycho (1960).[6]

Monster House was the first animated feature film using the Arnold rendering software (co-developed at Sony Pictures Imageworks), and the first feature film entirely rendered with unbiased, brute-force path tracing.[8][9]

Years after the film was released, Harmon received a letter from a woman whose 7-year-old daughter was having nightmares due to the film. Harmon wrote back, explaining that the story went the way it did because he had not finished the script when the studio took it, and hired other writers to change it in ways he did not approve of. He further denounced it by stating that Kenan was a hack and called Spielberg a moron (although he later clarified he was just venting, and did not really mean the latter).[10]

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.[11]



Critical response


Review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 75% approval rating, based on 162 reviews with an average rating of 6.8/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Monster House welcomes kids and adults alike into a household full of smart, monstrous fun."[12] On Metacritic the film has a score of 68 out of 100 based on 32 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[13] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.[14]

Roger Ebert gave the film his highest ranking of four stars calling it "one of the most original and exciting animated movies I've seen in a long time" and compared it to the works of Tim Burton.[15] Ian Freer of Empire gave the film 4 out of 5 stars, stating "A kind of Goonies for the Noughties, Monster House is a visually dazzling thrill ride that scales greater heights through its winning characters and poignantly etched emotions. A scary, sharp, funny movie, this is the best kids' flick of the year so far."[16] Jane Boursaw of Common Sense Media also gave it 4 stars out of 5, saying "This is one of those movies where all the planets align: a top-notch crew (director Gil Kenan; executive producers Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis), memorable voices that fit the characters perfectly; and a great story, ingenious backstory, and twisty-turny ending."[17] Roger Moore of the Orlando Sentinel also gave the film four stars out of five, saying "This Monster House is a real fun house. It's a 3-D animated kids' film built on classic gothic horror lines, a jokey, spooky Goonies for the new millennium."[18] Scott Bowles of USA Today gave the film a positive review, saying that "The movie treats children with respect. Monster's pre-teens are sarcastic, think they're smarter than their parents and are going crazy over the opposite sex".[19] Amy Biancolli of the Houston Chronicle wrote, "It's engineered to scare your pants off, split your sides and squeeze your tear ducts into submission."[20] 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."[21] A. O. Scott of The New York Times commented, "One of the spooky archetypes of childhood imagination—the dark, mysterious house across the street—is literally brought to life in "Monster House", a marvelously creepy animated feature directed by Gil Kenan."[22]

However, the film was not without its detractors. Frank Lovece of Film Journal International praised director Gil Kenan as "a talent to watch" but berated the "internal logic [that] keeps changing.... D.J.'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."[23] In a dismissive review, Todd McCarthy of Variety wrote: "Alert 'Harry Potter' fans will notice the script shamelessly lifts the prime personality traits of J. K. Rowling's three most important young characters for its lead trio: Tall, dark-haired, serious-minded DJ is Harry, semi-dufus Chowder is Ron and their new cohort, smarty-pants prep school redhead Jenny (Spencer Locke), is Hermione.... it is a theme-park ride, with shocks and jolts provided with reliable regularity. Across 90 minutes, however, the experience is desensitizing and dispiriting and far too insistent."[24]

Box office


Monster House opened theatrically on July 21, 2006, alongside Clerks II, Lady in the Water and My Super Ex-Girlfriend, and grossed $22.2 million in its opening weekend, ranking number two at the North American box office behind Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. The film ended its theatrical run on October 22, 2006, having grossed $73.7 million in North America and $68.2 million overseas for a worldwide total of $141.9 million against a production budget of $75 million.[2]

Awards and nominations

Award Category Recipient Result
Academy Award[25] Best Animated Feature Gil Kenan Nominated
Annie Award[26] Best Animated Feature Monster House Nominated
Directing in an Animated Feature Production Gil Kenan Nominated
Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production Maggie Gyllenhaal Nominated
Sam Lerner Nominated
Spencer Locke Nominated
Writing in an Animated Feature Production Dan Harmon, Rob Schrab and Pamela Pettler Nominated
Golden Globe Awards[27] Best Animated Feature Film Gil Kenan Nominated
Saturn Award[28] Best Animated Film Monster House Nominated
Best Young Actor/Actress Mitchel Musso Nominated
Best Score Douglas Pipes Nominated
Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards Best Animated Film Gil Kenan Nominated
Critics' Choice Awards Best Animated Feature Gil Kenan Nominated
Online Film Critics Society Awards Best Animated Film Monster House Nominated
Producers Guild of America Awards Best Animated Motion Picture Jack Rapke and Steve Starkey Nominated
Florida Film Critics Circle Awards Best Animated Film Gil Kenan Won

In 2008, the American Film Institute nominated this film for its Top 10 Animation Films list.[29]



Video game


A video game based on the film was released by THQ on July 18, 2006, for the PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS.[30]

Printed media


A companion comic book was released on June 14, 2006, with the title Monster House. One of the stories was written by Joshua Dysart with a second story written and illustrated by Simeon Wilkins. The comic was focused on the lives of the characters of Bones and Skull.[31] On June 23, 2006, a novelization of the film was released entitled Monster House: There Goes the Neighborhood. It was written by Tom Hughes.[32]

Potential sequel


On March 25, 2024, while promoting his latest film Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, director Gil Kenan addressed the possibility of a sequel or a spin-off.[33]

See also



  1. ^ "Monster House". British Board of Film Classification. June 16, 2006. Retrieved October 28, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c "Monster House". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on July 7, 2019. Retrieved November 12, 2012.
  3. ^ "Monster House (2006) - Gil Kenan | Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related | AllMovie". Archived from the original on May 27, 2022. Retrieved May 27, 2022 – via
  4. ^ McCarthy, Todd (July 4, 2006). "Review: 'Monster House'". Variety. Archived from the original on August 26, 2016. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
  5. ^ a b Ryan Ball (July 20, 2004). "Sony Moves into DreamWorks' Monster House". Animation Magazine. Archived from the original on January 29, 2020. Retrieved January 28, 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d e Awalt, Steven (September 27, 2021). "Into the 'Monster House'". Amblin Entertainment. Archived from the original on September 28, 2021. Retrieved September 27, 2021.
  7. ^ "The Animation of Monster House". Lost in the Plot. Archived from the original on October 8, 2007. Retrieved June 5, 2007.
  8. ^ "about". Autodesk. Archived from the original on February 25, 2021. Retrieved March 5, 2021.
  9. ^ Eric Haines (July 20, 2010). "Marcos and Arnold". Ray Tracing News. Archived from the original on February 14, 2020. Retrieved March 5, 2021.
  10. ^ Itzkoff, Dave (March 29, 2010). "'Community' Creator Writes to Child, Disses Spielberg and Wins Our Hearts". The New York Times. Archived from the original on July 9, 2021. Retrieved July 2, 2021.
  11. ^ For more info on the 3D technology used for Sony ImageWorks Monster House, visit:
  12. ^ Monster House at Rotten Tomatoes
  13. ^ "Monster House - Metacritic". Metacritic. Archived from the original on July 22, 2020. Retrieved April 20, 2020.
  14. ^ "CinemaScore". Archived from the original on December 14, 2019. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  15. ^ "Monster House (2006) - Roger Ebert Review". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  16. ^ "Review by Ian Freer (Empire)". Archived from the original on July 24, 2015. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
  17. ^ "Review by Jane Boursaw (Common sense Media)". Archived from the original on October 20, 2012. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
  18. ^ "Review by Roger Moore (Orlando Sentinel)". Archived from the original on October 21, 2012. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
  19. ^ "Review by Scott Bowles (USA Today)". July 20, 2006. Archived from the original on July 24, 2015. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
  20. ^ "Review by Amy Biancolli (Houston Chronicle)". Chron. July 21, 2006. Archived from the original on July 26, 2015. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
  21. ^ Michael Medved: Movie Minute Archived 2008-03-11 at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ "Review by A. O. Scott (New York Times)". The New York Times. August 28, 2006. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
  23. ^ "Monster House". Archived from the original on October 18, 2007. Retrieved August 5, 2006.
  24. ^ McCarthy, Todd (August 4, 2006). "Monster House". Variety. Archived from the original on January 7, 2011. Retrieved October 28, 2012.
  25. ^ "The 79th Academy Awards (2007) Nominees and Winners". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved March 2, 2012.
  26. ^ "34th Annual Annie Nominations and Awards Recipients". Annie Awards. Archived from the original on March 22, 2016. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  27. ^ Ball, Ryan (December 14, 2006). "Golden Globes Favor Cars, Happy Feet, Monster House". Animation Magazine. Archived from the original on February 22, 2014. Retrieved June 14, 2013.
  28. ^ Weinberg, Scott (February 21, 2007). "Celebrate the Genre Goodness with the Saturn Awards". Moviefone. Archived from the original on January 29, 2013. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  29. ^ "AFI's 10 Top 10 Nominees" (PDF). Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved August 19, 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  30. ^ Fox, Matt (January 3, 2013). The Video Games Guide: 1,000+ Arcade, Console and Computer Games, 1962-2012 (2nd ed.). McFarland Publishing. p. 192. ISBN 9780786472574.
  31. ^ "MONSTER HOUSE ONE SHOT". Archived from the original on January 13, 2023. Retrieved January 14, 2023.
  32. ^ Hughes, Tom (2006). Monster House: There Goes the Neighborhood.
  33. ^ "Monster House Director Addresses Possible Sequel or Spinoff". Horror. Retrieved March 25, 2024.
  • Columbia Pictures press release titled "Monster House: July 21, 2006" (offline)