I watched Monster House on DVD with the Cute Little Red-Headed Girlfriend awhile ago, having missed it in the theater. It's up for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature this year, which is interesting, because I looked up some of the film's reviews before writing this entry and noticed many critics found the quality of the animation lacking.
Some reviewers felt there was an unfinished quality to the animation overall, while others felt uncomfortable with the human characters in particular. One critic felt the human figures fell into the "uncanny valley" of simulation, being neither lifelike enough to seem realistic, nor stylized enough to seem artistic.
I found the animation style distinctive rather than rough. I also thought the 3D techniques were well suited to experiencing an architectural monster; the CGI animation made me feel like I was moving inside the house. It felt like being on a virtual ride inside a video game, and maybe that was the problem for some film reviewers--not everyone appreciates game aesthetics. Of course, I saw the movie on the small screen, so it's possible some flaws in the animation were not as apparent to me.
I was not expecting the movie to be as scary as it turned out to be. Perhaps scary isn't the right word; it was more like a feeling of unease. As the film progressed, I noticed my unease seemed to stem as much from the depiction of femaleness on screen as from the storyline.
I don't want say too much about the female form in this film, because I don't want to spoil the movie for anyone who wishes to see it, and almost anything I divulge on this topic might do that. Nonetheless, what I will say is that this movie reminded me of some of the original Grimm's fairy tales that I have read.
Disney's animated films have often been criticized for sanitizing the folk tales they draw from as source material. Monster House channels some of the gothic brutality found in Grimm's tales; it also dips into the ancient folklore that cautions against the horrors of the female body and the female condition. These qualities make it a powerful--and in an uncanny way--a familiar film. But in the end, uneasy is exactly the way I feel about it.