Monster House (film)

Monster House is a 2006 American computer-animated supernatural comedy horror film directed by Gil Kenan in his directorial debut from a screenplay by Dan Harmon, Rob Schrab and Pamela Pettler, about 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, as well as human characters being animated using live action motion capture animation, which was previously used in The Polar Express (2004).

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
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Dan Harmon
  • Rob Schrab
Music byDouglas Pipes
CinematographyXavier Perez Grobet
Edited by
  • Fabienne Rawley
  • Adam P. Scott
Distributed bySony Pictures Releasing
Release date
  • July 21, 2006 (2006-07-21) (United States)
Running time
91 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$75 million[2]
Box office$141.9 million[2]

Produced by Robert Zemeckis' ImageMovers and Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment,[3] the film was released theatrically by Columbia Pictures on July 21, 2006 to generally positive reviews from critics. It grossed $142 million worldwide against a production budget of $75 million.[2]


The parents of 12-year-old D.J. go on an errand for the weekend, leaving him in the care of his babysitter Zee. D.J. has been spying on his elderly neighbor, Horace Nebbercracker, who scares away children and confiscates their belongings that land in his front yard. After D.J.'s best friend Chowder loses his basketball on Nebbercracker's lawn, D.J. is caught attempting to retrieve it and the enraged Nebbercracker appears to suffer a heart attack from overexerting himself and is taken away by an ambulance. That night, D.J. gets phone calls from the house with no one on the other end.

Zee's drunk boyfriend, Bones, comes over for the night and reveals that as a child, Nebbercracker stole his kite and was allegedly rumored to have eaten his wife. After Zee throws him out, he sees his lost kite in the house's front door, but is abducted by the house while attempting to retrieve it. D.J. and Chowder investigate but retreat when the house comes alive and attacks them. The next morning, schoolgirl Jenny Bennett sells Halloween candy and goes to the house; D.J. and Chowder save her before she gets eaten. Jenny calls police officers Landers and Lister, who do not believe the children because the house is inactive when adults are present.

The trio consults supernatural expert Reginald "Skull" Skulinski, learning that the house is a rare monster created when a human soul merges with a man-made structure and that it can only be killed by destroying its heart. Concluding that Nebbercracker's spirit is possessing the house and the heart must be its furnace, they create and bring a dummy containing cold medicine from a pharmacy owned by Chowder's father. Before the dummy reaches the house however, Landers and Lister thwart their plan and arrest them after Landers discovers the stolen medicine. Before they can leave, the house eats the two officers and their police car and traps the children inside it.

After the house falls asleep, the three begin exploring it. In the basement, they find a shrine containing the encased-in-cement body of Nebbercracker's late wife, Constance the Giantess. The house attacks them, though they force it to vomit them outside by grabbing its uvula. Nebbercracker returns alive and well, revealing that the house is possessed by Constance's spirit. As a young man, he met Constance, then an unwilling member of a circus freak show, and fell in love with her despite her obesity and rescued her from the circus. They then got married and Nebbercracker bought a piece of land and started building the house for them. One Halloween, two children tormented Constance due to her size. She tried to chase them off, but when Nebbercracker tried to calm her down and stop her, she fell into the unfinished basement with a concrete mixer burying her body, killing her. Nebbercracker finished the house like she would've wanted, but after realizing that Constance's spirit began possessing the house, he drove everyone away in order to protect them from it.

D.J. convinces Nebbercracker to let Constance go, much to the house's anger. It breaks free from its foundation and chases after the group. Nebbercracker realizes the trouble Constance has caused and attempts to destroy the house with a stick of dynamite, but it then attempts to kill him. Chowder intervenes using a backhoe loader from the adjacent construction site and Nebbercracker gives DJ the dynamite. After luring the house into the site, D.J. ascends the nearby crane and, with Jenny's help, manages to throw the dynamite into the house's chimney, causing it to explode and release Constance's spirit, who shares a final moment with Nebbercracker before finally ascending to the afterlife as the latter thanks the children for their help. That night, the children Nebbercracker drove away line up at the former site of the house, where the group returns everything Nebbercracker stole from them. Chowder and D.J. go trick-or-treating, which they earlier felt they were too old for.

During the credits, those who were eaten by the house emerge from the basement. Bones finds that Zee is now dating Skull, Officer Landers and Officer Lister leave to "investigate" some of the trick-or-treating candy, and a dog urinates on a nearby jack-o'-lantern enough to extinguish its flame.


Monster House co-stars Sam Lerner, Spencer Locke and Mitchel Musso at the 34th Annie Awards.


The film was initially set up at DreamWorks Animation, based on a pitch by newcomer Gil Kenan. By 2004, the studio put the film in turnaround, to which Sony Pictures picked up the project and began production on August 23 of that year.[4]

The film was shot using performance capture, in which the actors performed the characters' movement and lines while linked to sensors, a process pioneered by Robert Zemeckis for his film The Polar Express (2004).[5] A stereoscopic 3D version of the film was created and had a limited release in digital 3D stereo alongside the 2D version. It was also released in approximately 200 theaters equipped with the new RealD Cinema digital 3D stereoscopic projection. The process was not based on film, but was purely digital. Since the original source material was "built" in virtual 3D, it created a very rich stereoscopic environment. For the film's release, the studio nicknamed it Imageworks 3D.[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.[7][8]


Critical responseEdit

Review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 75% approval rating, based on 162 reviews with an average rating of 6.83/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Monster House offers adults and children alike into a household full of smart, monstrous fun."[9] On Metacritic the film has a score of 68 out of 100 based on 32 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[10] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.[11]

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 work of Tim Burton.[12] 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."[13] 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."[14] 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."[15] 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.[16] 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."[17] 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."[18] 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."[19]

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."[20] 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."[21]

Box officeEdit

Monster House opened theatrically on July 21, 2006, alongside Clerks II, Lady in the Water and My Super Ex-Girlfriend, and grossed $22,217,226 in its opening weekend, ranking number two at the North American box office. The film ended its theatrical run on October 22, 2006, having grossed $73,661,010 domestically and $68,200,233 overseas for a worldwide total of $141,861,243 against a production budget of $75 million.[2]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Award Category Recipient Result
Academy Award[22] Best Animated Feature Nominated
Annie Award[23] Best Animated Feature 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[24] Best Animated Feature Film Nominated
Saturn Award[25] Best Animated Film Nominated
Best Young Actor/Actress Mitchel Musso Nominated
Best Score Douglas Pipes Nominated

In 2008, the American Film Institute nominated this film for its Top 10 Animation Films list.[26]

Video gameEdit

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.[27]


  1. ^ "Monster House". British Board of Film Classification. June 16, 2006. Retrieved October 28, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d "Monster House". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 12, 2012.
  3. ^ McCarthy, Todd (July 4, 2006). "Review: 'Monster House'". Variety. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
  4. ^ Ryan Ball (July 20, 2004). "Sony Moves into DreamWorks' Monster House". Animation Magazine. Retrieved January 28, 2020.
  5. ^ "The Animation of Monster House". Lost in the Plot. Archived from the original on 2007-10-08. Retrieved 2007-06-05.
  6. ^ For more info on the 3D technology used for Sony ImageWorks Monster House, visit:
  7. ^ "about". Autodesk.
  8. ^ Eric Haines (July 20, 2010). "Marcos and Arnold". Ray Tracing News.
  9. ^ Monster House at Rotten Tomatoes
  10. ^ Monster House - Metacritic
  11. ^ "CinemaScore".
  12. ^ "Monster House (2006) - Roger Ebert Review". Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  13. ^ "Review by Ian Freer (Empire)". Retrieved January 1, 2013.
  14. ^ "Review by Jane Boursaw (Common sense Media)". Retrieved January 1, 2013.
  15. ^ "Review by Roger Moore (Orlando Sentinel)". Archived from the original on 2012-10-21. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
  16. ^ "Review by Scott Bowles (USA Today)". July 20, 2006. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
  17. ^ "Review by Amy Biancolli (Houston Chronicle)". Retrieved January 1, 2013.
  18. ^ Michael Medved: Movie Minute Archived 2008-03-11 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ "Review by A. O. Scott (New York Times)". The New York Times. August 28, 2006. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
  20. ^ Monster House
  21. ^ McCarthy, Todd (4 August 2006). "Monster House". Variety. Retrieved 28 October 2012.
  22. ^ "The 79th Academy Awards (2007) Nominees and Winners". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved March 2, 2012.
  23. ^ "34th Annual Annie Nominations and Awards Recipients". Annie Awards. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  24. ^ Ball, Ryan (December 14, 2006). "Golden Globes Favor Cars, Happy Feet, Monster House". Animation Magazine. Retrieved June 14, 2013.
  25. ^ Weinberg, Scott (February 21, 2007). "Celebrate the Genre Goodness with the Saturn Awards". Moviefone. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  26. ^ "AFI's 10 Top 10 Nominees" (PDF). Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2016-08-19.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  27. ^ Fox, Matt (3 January 2013). The Video Games Guide: 1,000+ Arcade, Console and Computer Games, 1962-2012 (2nd ed.). McFarland Publishing. p. 192. ISBN 9780786472574.
  • Columbia Pictures press release titled "Monster House: July 21, 2006" (offline)

External linksEdit