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Western Animation / Monster House

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DJ: Zee, it's true there's something evil going on across the street.
Zee: That's excellent. I'm really happy for you.

Monster House is a 2006 computer animated and motion capture film. It was produced by Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis, written by Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab, and directed by Gil Kenan.

The movie focuses on DJ Walters, a boy who is convinced that there's something strange about the house across the street, and believes the house across the street from him is alive. When his parents go away for the weekend, he tries convincing his babysitter that there is something wrong about the house. She does not believe him, so DJ enlists the help of his best friends Chowder and Jenny, a girl selling Halloween candy (and who nearly gets eaten by the house). Together, the three of them try to destroy the monster house, along the way figuring out its secret.


This movie provides examples of:

  • The '80s: Though never mentioned, many signs throughout the film pinpoint the film as being set sometime in the mid-to-late 1980's. It's most likely 1987, due to Halloween falling on a Saturday that year.
    • Also, Nebbercracker was a soldier in what seems to be either World War II or The Korean War, as he was a young man in his flashbacks but doesn’t appear to be older than 70 in the present day.
  • Absurdly Ineffective Barricade: Both Chowder and DJ attempt this when the house is chasing after them, former by closing the gate behind him, claiming to be trying to "slow it down", while the latter pushes a single dumpster in its way.
  • Adults Are Useless: With the exception of Horace Nebbercracker (and, to a degree, Skull), pretty much every grown up in the film is some combination of stupid and oblivious.
  • All-CGI Cartoon
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Elizabeth/Zee and Bones. Then again, Elizabeth/Zee isn't exactly a sweetheart herself, so there's not much to complain about. Subverted in the end when she starts going out with the resident nerd, Skull.
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  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Japanese dub has "Seishun no Tobira" as its theme song.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: In the climax, the house detaches from the foundation with tree arms and chases the gang through the neighborhood once it suspects Nebbercracker intends to leave it behind.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Chowder shows signs of having ADD or ADHD.
  • Axe-Crazy: The house. Constance also shows signs of this in life, exhibiting violent paranoia as a result of years of abuse by spectators.
    • An almost literal example of this at one point, as when being egged by a group of children, Constance took an axe away from her husband before beginning to advance on them.
  • Babysitter from Hell: Subverted with Zee. Though largely apathetic to DJ, she calls off Bones when he continues harassing her charge, and even gives the kids some halloween candy.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Jenny is a prep-school girl with entrepreneurial skills that are so good, she manages to sell a lot to a very satisfied Zee, who kept trying to shoo her away.
  • Berserk Button: Tresspassing or damaging Mr. Nebbercrackers' house in any way. Though this is because the house itself is alive and that it is possessed by the soul of Mr. Nebbercrackers' deceased wife Constance; who was a freakshow in a circus who regularly got ridiculed and had tomatoes thrown at her before she met Horace Nebbercracker.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Chowder, DJ and Jenny.
  • Braids of Action: Jenny's hairstyle, which becomes this once she's brought on the adventure.
  • Broken Glass Penalty: Chowder guilt trips DJ into retrieving his new ball after it is lost on Nebbercracker's yard.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The heavy machinery at the dig site, specifically the crane.
    • The house's uvula.
  • Chekhov's Skill: During the main character's break-in inside the house, a photograph in the house reveals that Mr. Nebbercracker was a veteran engineer during (perhaps) the Second World War. This proved instrumental with destroying the house using dynamite during the climax.
  • Child Hater: Nebbercracker as part of his Jerkass Façade. His wife Constance in life was easily set off by harassment, which we see in the form of children.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: Nebbercracker had to scare all the children away, or else the house would eat them.
  • Demolitions Expert: An old picture shows that Nebbercracker was evidently a former military demoman, which explains why he keeps a crate of dynamite in the house.
  • Demonic Possession: The house is possessed by Constance, who was buried alive by cement in the basement.
  • Determinator: Even after chasing the kids halfway across the town (presumably), battling a bulldozer, falling off a cliff, and being destroyed by the fall, the house still won't stop trying to kill them. See One-Winged Angel below.
  • Dying Town: The local lake has been drained for a housing development, but the age of the sign indicates it's been inactive for a while. Still, the machines are functional, so it may be in progress.
  • Egging: While the titular house was under construction, children threw eggs and rocks at it, which caused Constance to try and attack them.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The titular house, (aka Constance) and its/ her final form.
  • Eldritch Location: The titular house. Especially when Constance starts to affect the insides more. Some of the weirder things it can do include looking inward with beams of sunlight to survey the interior of the house, possessing the grounds and objects inside to bring people closer, and making phone calls with no apparent operator.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: The dynamite that finally finishes off Constance, as well as the construction equipment.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Zee is apathetic to DJ but can only watch Bones bully him for so long before telling him to lay off.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The house is a monster.
  • Fat and Skinny: A few examples. DJ is a very thin boy while his friend Chowder, while not exactly fat, is somewhat chubby, and then there's the two cops, Landers (fat) and Lester (skinny). And although they don't interact until the end, Skull (fat) and Bones (skinny) used to be in a band together. Horace Nebbercracker is a skinny husband to the rather obese Constance.
  • Fat Bastard: To a degree, Constance, although she's more sympathetic than most because of her Freudian Excuse.
  • Favouritism Flip Flop: Currently provides the trope quote.
    DJ: Questions?
    Chowder: Yes, umm, are you nuts? I don't wanna steal drugs from my Father, I don't wanna go inside a monster, and I don't wanna die!
    Jenny: I say it's worth a shot.
    Chowder: Yes I agree. Let's do it.
  • Fictional Video Game: Thou Art Dead.
  • First Kiss: DJ's Motivational Kiss from Jenny also seems to have been his first, much to his joy.
    DJ: "I kissed a girl. I kissed a girl on the lips."
  • Foreshadowing:
    • "Do you want to be eaten alive?!" We find out Nebbercracker isn't exaggerating, his house really does eat people when they get too close.
    • DJ has a nightmare about the house, with a giant sinister arm reaching from the doorway. Said arm is visibly overweight, and the house turns out to be possessed by a former circus fat lady.
    • The whole joke about Jenny mentioning the house's uvula, with Chowder mishearing it and claiming the house is female.
    • Before he collapses at the beginning of the film, Nebbercracker is clearly about to call the house "her."
    • Zee's shirt when Jenny is selling candy to her reads "Skull Bones". Bones is the name of her boyfriend at the start of the film. Skull is the name of the guy she dates at the end.
    • The Monster House wakes up after Nebbercracker breaks his arm and passes out. Cracks appear on the windows to signify that the house is upset.
  • The Freakshow: Constance was trapped in one until she was rescued by Nebbercracker.
  • Freudian Excuse: The titular Monster House is possessed, along with the surrounding plot of land, by the angry spirit of Constance, a woman who was mocked her entire life because she was obese and used to be exposed as a circus freaknote  until Nebbercracker helped her escape. Constance died during a bout of irrational paranoia trying to go after some mischievous kids, and her spirit maintains that psychological warping.
  • Fun-Hating Confiscating Adult: Justified and Subverted: Nebbercracker cultivates the "scary, cranky old man" image, and snatches the toys that ended up landing on his lawn to protect kids from trying to retrieve them, because his house is sentient, possessed by the vengeful spirit of his wife who had big issues with nasty, pranking hooligan children and couldn't tell them from non-malicious children being playful. The truth is that he was a kind-hearted sweet old man, turned into a jerk by the house, and when she has been set free, he is happy to give the toys back.
  • Geek: Skull.
  • Geeky Turn-On: At the end, when Zee starts dating Skull.
  • Genius Loci: The house, of course.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • When Zee tells Jenny she's just a babysitter, Jenny decides to "cut the crap" and get straight to business.
      • The Croatian dub translates the word "crap" as "sranje" (and the whole sentence is translated as "Dosta sranja"). In Croatia, the word "sranje" is generally recognized as a strong word closer to "bullshit" (or just "shit") than "crap" - though all three of those translate the same - and as a result we have a case of someone (and a kid, nonetheless) actually saying something that would translate back as "Enough bullshit".
    • After Jenny notes that the house has an uvula, Chowder states that it's a "girl" house. It was even featured in the trailers.
    • The Latin American dub actually went further than the original, with Chowder confusing uvula (being the same word in Spanish) for óvulo (Spanish for egg cell), and then saying that the house is monstruating.
    • How on earth did this one slip past the censors?
    Chowder: Whoa. Look at all these toys!
    Jenny: This must be where Nebbercracker keeps his stash.
    Chowder: (under breath) Heh. Stash.
    • Chowder's parents. Very subtle.
      DJ: Chowder, where are your parents?
      Chowder: My dad's at the pharmacy and my mom's with her personal trainer at the movies.note 
    • What's arguably even more audacious than the above joke itself is how Chowder says it like he's almost resigned to it - his dad knows, his mom knows, and he knows, and he's just "Well, that's just how it is for us." Or that his mom has a habit of doing this.
    • When DJ corrects Bones on his stuffed rabbit's gender, Bones pretends to make out with the rabbit.
    • Bones is seen tackling Zee and trying to make out with her, but she resists and kicks him out of the house, after which he mutters "prude".
    • At one point, Chowder asks DJ if he has any beer, right after pretending to tell his dad on the phone to kiss his "hairy butt" (in order to try and show off for Jenny).
    • Bones is actually seen drinking beer and appears to be drunk when he approaches the house.
  • Girlish Pigtails: The little girl at the beginning of the film wears these.
  • Girls Have Cooties: Subverted. Both DJ and Chowder develop crushes on Jenny the moment they see her.
  • Good All Along: Mr. Nebbercracker is not as cantankerous as he initially appears to be.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Mr. Nebbercracker. At least this is what he pretends to be to prevent his neighbors from becoming food for his possessed house.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: The house can get angry with minimal provocation. So could the woman possessing it.
  • Haunted House: Played with; obviously the house is haunted, but the ghost of Constance is the house. Taken slightly further, too, as the house's grounds can also be manipulated by the spirit.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The house's doorbell. Especially because it first sounds like a regular doorbell, before ending in an ominous graveyard gong of doom
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Chowder and DJ towards Jenny.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: DJ and Chowder.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Many of the characters bear very good likeness to their voice actors. Maggie Gyllenhaal as Zee is among the best examples.
  • Jerkass: Bones.
  • Jerkass Façade: Nebbercracker. He does this to protect the children from his house/wife Constance.
  • Just a Kid: Why no one will initially believe DJ.
  • Kid Heroes: DJ, Chowder, and Jenny.
  • Kids Are Cruel: This could all have been avoided if this wasn't the case with the kids who teased Constance and eventually caused her to fall to her death in the foundation of her new house.
  • Living Structure Monster: The titular creature is Exactly What It Says on the Tin: a monstrous, animate house.
  • The Load: For most of the film, Chowder does nothing but screw up and slow DJ and Jenny down.
  • Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Horace Nebbercracker, who acts angry and crazy towards people but turns out not to be such a bad guy.
  • Morality Pet: Nebbercracker is this to Constance. Even when possessing his house, she never tries to harm him until he tries to blow her up with dynamite.
  • Motion Capture: How most of the characters were animated.
  • Motivational Kiss: At the climax, DJ is faced with the task of climbing up a crane and dropping a stick of dynamite down Constance's chimney, destroying her once and for all. When he says that he doesn't think he can do it, Jenny loudly proclaims, "Yes, you can!" before kissing him on the lips.
  • Moving Buildings: Especially at the end of the film.
  • Never Live It Down: In-universe. Constance never forgot the kids that used to tease her.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The funny scene where the house eats the police car whole was different in the movie. Not only were the two cops swallowed separately, but the kids were the only ones inside the car.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Nebbercracker's modus operandi is to terrorize kids away from the house and confiscate their toys to keep them away... but this unfortunately allows the house to use the toys as lures and temptations so it can eat more victims.
  • Object Tracking Shot: The leaf at the beginning of the movie.
  • One-Winged Angel: The titular house, who turns out to be Constance's vengeful spirit merged with it, becomes more and more monstrous the more times it attacks until eventually, she's using two trees in the front yard as legs. After her body is first destroyed, it eventually re-forms into a gigantic, bloodthirsty orb of broken wood spikes with More Teeth than the Osmond Family supported by the same two trees, becoming a Clipped-Wing Angel.
  • Operation: Jealousy: It's heavily implied the reason Zee hooks up with Skull is to get back at Bones.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: The house is possessed by a malevolent spirit that eats people who come too close to it...
  • Pac-Man Fever: Averted. Uber-nerd Skull is a purported master of Thou Art Dead, an arcade game at the pizza joint he works for. According to a designer on the film, it was heavily inspired by Ghosts 'n Goblins and Castlevania, and made sure to recreate the 16-bit look of games from the period.
  • Police are Useless: Though, in fairness, there's only two cops in the movie, one of whom has only been on the job for under a week. Oh, and Judy back at the station.
  • Product Placement: The people in this movie sure like Mr. Clean.
  • Properly Paranoid: Nebbercracker wanted to make sure the children leave his house so that it wouldn't provoke Constance's wrath.
  • Rabid Cop: On the one hand, children should learn to respect the law and shouldn't throw stones at people's houses. On the other, threatening to shoot them is going way too far.
  • Rescue Romance: Constance was originally a carnival attraction that was continuously mocked and ridiculed for being overweight and was kept inside of a cage when not performing. Then after one show, she meets a young Horace Nebbercracker who had fallen in love with her and promised to take her away from the Circus. Constance immediately fell in love with him as he hooked her cage up to his pickup truck to escape into the night together.
  • Retired Badass: While not much is actually said by the characters, portraits inside of Mr. Nebbercrackers' house show that Horace was originally part of the U.S. Military Demolition Squad involved in The Pacific Theater.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Chowder is indeed right about the spirit possessing the house being a female, but it's not because it has an uvula in its mouth (which he probably heard as "uterus", or possibly "vulva", which is even dirtier).
  • Senior Creep: Mr. Nebbercracker, whom the others don't like due to his scary demeanor and habit of taking everything that ends up on his lawn. However, he's really doing this to protect the neighborhood's residents from his house.
  • Significant Green-Eyed Redhead: Jenny.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: In the end of the film when Zee ditches Bones for the resident nerd Skull. Because he "gives her the respect she deserves and makes time for her."
  • Stealth Pun: It is revealed that the house is possessed by the vengeful spirit of Constance, Mr. Nebbercracker's wife. Which makes it a house-wife. Made much clearer when DJ uses the term unironically at the end.
  • Stylistic Suck: The animators tried to go for a Stop Motion feel when animating this movie, to attempt to avoid Uncanny Valley feel of pieces the team did before, like The Polar Express. Despite being from 2006, this makes the aging of the movie seem less apparent to most.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Mr. Nebbercracker and his wife Constance The Giantess.
  • Tragic Monster: The house, once we find out it's possessed by Constance, who died in an accident after a psychological issue set her off.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: The main trio.
  • Undeath Always Ends: At the end of the movie, the house is finally destroyed, setting Constance's spirit free.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: There's a BIG, LIVING GODDAMN HOUSE stomping its way through the middle of a suburban neighborhood, and nobody comes out of their house to see what's going on.
  • Urine Trouble:
    • A dog pees on a jack-o-lantern, putting out its flame.
    • The house eats a dog the instant it starts peeing on its lawn.
    • Don't forget the overnight bottles.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Constance was not happy about the circumstances of her death and her treatment in life, and she ain't at rest.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Subverted with everyone eaten by the house, who all appear during the end credits climbing out of what was once the basement.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Constance was forced to be part of a circus as The Freakshow and was mercilessly mocked by the public and seemingly mistreated by the owner of the circus. (She did have to sleep in a cage.) Then she found happiness when Mr. Nebbercracker rescued her and married her, only to fall to her death in the foundation of her house when she tried to chase off a group of kids that were harassing her. Her enraged spirit then became part of the house, unable to leave for the afterlife - essentially remaining trapped in her own home for several decades.
  • Wrong Insult Offence: When DJ accidentally kills his neighbor in a fight (or so he thinks), Chowder reassures him that he's not a murderer - after all, killing someone accidentally is called manslaughter.
  • Yandere: Constance, a.k.a the house. If anyone disrespects her house, trespasses near her or tries to take her husband away, she'll gobble them up.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: When the kids tell two police officers about the house.


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