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Young Anna Madden (Charlotte Burke) becomes a cause for concern when she begins drawing the house which appears in her dreams. She finds that she can actually visit the house herself, and discovers it to be occupied by a disabled boy. However, back in reality, Anna is slipping in and out of consciousness and this results in her being placed in medical care. It appears that her harmless dream has now turned into a very real nightmare....
To define the 1988 fantasy flick Paperhouse as a mere horror film would be an injustice--although this intelligent and thought-provoking British film is certainly scary in parts. In exploring the world of dreams, director Bernard Rose (Candyman) offers a far more elegant exposition of the subject than the Nightmare on Elm Street school of horror. Based on the novel Marianne Dreams by Catherine Storr, Paperhouse offers a believable cause for its intensified dreamworld: Anna (Charlotte Burke) falls ill with glandular fever--a fever which will blur her understanding of reality and dreams. It is clear from the start that Anna has an overzealous imagination, holding onto her childhood games while her best friend becomes more interested in boys. Before her descent into illness Anna draws the Paperhouse of the title, and it is this house that dominates her dream world.
Although the acting is rather hammy and the scenes set in reality are tedious, the true beauty of the film comes from Production Designer Gemma Jackson and Cinematographer Mike Southon, whose talents emerge in the dream sequences. Clearly taking inspiration from the Surrealist movement, Jackson recreates a chilling version of Anna's drawing of the house, full of dark shadows and terrifying noises, that perhaps has more in common with Jan Svankmajer's macabre adaptation of Lewis Carroll's Alice than the innocent childhood offerings of Disney. Ultimately Paperhouse is an exploration of the traumatic transition into adulthood of a young girl on the cusp of her teenage years: at the start of the film Anna "hates boys", but by the end she is sharing her first kiss with Mark, her playmate in the dream world.
On the DVD With a 1.66:1 ratio format and Dolby Digital sound the stylistic brilliance of this movie is much easier to see and enjoy than in its previous incarnations on television and video. The special features leave a lot to be desired, though, offering only an unexciting original trailer and four filmographies for the director and the three main adult actresses. --Nikki Disney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
While suffering from glandular fever at home and confined to her bedroom, 11 year old birthday girl Anna Madden draws a house in her sketch pad. Bizarrely the house comes to be real in her dreams when she falls asleep. So upon waking she starts to draw other things to go with the house, including a boy at the window (Marc). However, things start to turn bad when another character she draws enters the Paperhouse.
Four years earlier than Paperhouse we had seen A Nightmare On Elm Street open up a can of worms for the horror movie dream aspect. By the time of Paperhouse's release, the format was already looking tired as two sequels to Freddie's jolly had been and gone and a wave of imitators had blighted our screens (anyone remember the awful Dream Demon for instance?). This may go some way to explaining why Paperhouse, a brilliant, and hauntingly poetic movie, upped and vanished from the radar. Its director is Bernard Rose, who four years later would direct Candyman and put him in the shop window of the horror faithful. Thus prompting many to seek out some of his earlier work and getting Paperhouse talked about again. Not everyone took to it, for it's not overtly horror in name. It contains genuine moments of terror, but its themes and atmosphere are more in keeping with something like Pan's Labyrinth than with Candyman, Candyman, Candyman.
Paperhouse is open to interpretation by the individual viewer, it toys with ideas such as what is the reality here? Is Anna in limbo, is it coincidence that she is sick? There's a number of issues that on the surface are not obviously addressed, but they can be if you open up to it and use a thought process.Read more ›
Although it's certainly quite gripping in parts, it would be more appropriate to label this little gem as a Fantasy/Suspense-Thriller.
Like many others, I watched this film when I was younger and loved it. And when I watched it recently again as an adult I found it just as enjoyable, and obviously, now older, I connected with it on a more emotional level.
To portray the surreal and complicated story onto the screen so well is a testiment to the director/writer/actors involved.
If this was one of those films from your childhood its worth another watch.
The story is engaging from start to finish. The only film that has managed to made me jump and cry! This is definitely a film that you need to watch completely uninterupted, perhaps in bed or under a blanket on a comfy settee in the dark.
Paperhouse has many twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat, and whilst the dream sequences become more and more disturbing, there are many moving scenes - the one that always sticks in my mind is Anna (Charlotte Burke) feverishly drawing the house of her dreams until dawn, with the beautiful 'Sanctus' from Gabriel Faure's 'Requiem' as the soundtrack; the aftermath of her illness, and the awkwardness of repairing the broken relationship with her father.
This is not just another scary film, it is also a deeply emotional story that moves me every time I watch it. The occasional continuity errors and dated special effects are easily overlooked by the brilliant performances by Charlotte Burke and Elliott Speirs, and the actual set of the Paperhouse itself is one that you won't forget in a hurry. A brilliant film that'll have you on the edge of your seat again and again.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Been searching for this film for a while. Loved the atmosphere and the danger. arrived on time and well packaged. Many thanks.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
This film is very haunting and I watched it years ago. Always stuck in my mindPublished 6 months ago by Denise Morris
Wooden acting and a flimsy plot make this a real disappointment. I read the book which I really enjoyed. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Treehugger
I do like this film but the picture and sound quality is pretty poor on Fire TV. Not impressed for an £8 purchase, especially when the DVD is only £4.Published 10 months ago by Jacob A Rogers
Not, absolutely NOT, a grown up horror film, which is what I bought it thinking it was. I suspect one or two blurry childhood memories are influencing one or two of the positive... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Smokin' A Blunt