Paperhouse

1988

Action / Drama / Fantasy

46
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 100%
IMDb Rating 6.8 10 4665

Synopsis


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Director

Cast

Glenne Headly as Kate Madden
Gemma Jones as Dr. Sarah Nicols
Ben Cross as Dad Madden
Steven O'Donnell as Dustman
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
752.84 MB
1280*720
English
NR
23.976 fps
1hr 32 min
P/S 0 / 6
1.44 GB
1920*1080
English
NR
23.976 fps
1hr 32 min
P/S 1 / 1

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Sankari_Suomi 7 / 10

The tortured soul of a young girl, laid bare!

This British dark fantasy film was based on Catherine Storr's Marianne Dreams, which it vaguely resembles.

The cast includes Ben Cross (Chariots of Fire) and Gemma Jones (Sense and Sensibility, Bridget Jones' Diary), but the lead role is played by little-known Charlotte Burke, in her one and only big screen appearance.

Burke stars as Anna Madden, a troubled girl whose alcoholic, emotionally distant father works overseas. Her mother (an awkward, wooden-faced Glenne Headly) with whom she shares a spiteful love/hate relationship, is a business professional of some description, and has little time for Anna's angst.

Burke was actually 14 years old at the time Paperhouse was made, but her small face, short stature, and immature body allowed her to pass for the 11 year old Anna. Incredibly, we still get a bath scene in which she is briefly shown topless.

Anna's mother smokes like a chimney, casually flicking ash and half- finished cigarettes out the window of her Saab while exchanging insults with her daughter and agonising over her frayed relationship with her husband. At one point she slaps Anna across the face, and Anna barely reacts. This is a family in which domestic violence is part of everyday life.

In an unrelated scene, Anna chats with her slutty school friend Karen (a frisky Sarah Newbold, who eventually found her way back to cinema in 2004 as assistant supervising producer for Juliette Soubrier's La dernière visite) while they both try on makeup and discuss the merits of snogging (Karen boasts that she's had four different boys in one night).

Having established that Anna is an irritating little bitch, the movie takes a U-turn and asks us to sympathise as her life is disrupted by supernatural shenanigans. She enters a dream world where she meets Marc (a languid Elliott Spiers, who looks like someone who's about to die in the next 6 years, which he actually did) and discovers that her actions in the real world affect events in his.

Marc and Anna hit it off surprisingly well for two kids who aren't very likable (I kept hoping that Anna would push Marc out the window, and even offered to do it for her at one point) and together they try to solve the mystery of their curiously intertwined existential dilemma. Resolution is possible, but it must come at a terrible price. Who will pay: Anna, or Marc? (By this time I was hoping it would be Marc, because he's a boring little scrote whereas Anna is quite cute once you get past her bitchiness and 1980s hair).

The movie works on a number of levels: psychological, philosophical, and societal. The overarching theme is of course the onset of puberty, and the trauma this inflicts on Anna's damaged psyche. A secondary motif is Marc's helplessness, counterbalanced by a disturbingly Oedipal theme in the third act, where Anna's father makes a surprise entrance in a manner not conducive to filial piety.

Paperhouse is far from perfect, but the remastered 1080p print corrects the inconsistent 'dark wash' palette of the original, boosting saturation levels to decent values and rebalancing the skin tones. Director Bernard Rose was a little too fond of the so-called 'scratch cut' technique (which initially gives the impression that you're watching one of those dreadful Scott Shrosbree films) but it somehow works better than expected.

I rate Paperhouse at 24.97 on the Haglee Scale, which works out as a perky 7.5 on IMDb.

Reviewed by Leofwine_draca 7 / 10

Classic slice of British weird

PAPERHOUSE is an immersive and interesting British horror/fantasy film of the 1980s that has enjoyed some measure of cult success since it was first released nearly 20 years ago. It's certainly an oddball movie, low budget and rather slow-paced, but my advice is to stick with it because it's a journey that does pay off. This is an imaginative tale about a girl who goes on a psychological journey into a make-believe world with some very odd characteristics.

It's one of those films which would be spoilt by saying too much about it. The main thing I can say is that this is classic British 'weird' - a genre with a fine literary tradition - and the titular construction is very well realised and memorable. The young cast give naturalistic performances, backed up by old-timers like Ben Cross, and the spooky atmosphere is second to none.

Reviewed by BA_Harrison 2 / 10

Where's Jim Henson with his felt and fur when you need him?

Eleven year old Anna (Charlotte Burke) suffers from an bout of glandular fever that causes her to have fainting spells, during which she finds herself in the fantasy world that she has created in a series of drawings. While awake, she adds to her sketches, and these elements subsequently appear in her dream world, including a boy, Marc (Elliott Spiers), and her father (Ben Cross), who takes on the form of a hammer-wielding boogeyman.

I've seen two other films by director Bernard Rose: the excellent Candyman, and the absolutely terrible Snuff Movie. I'm sorry to say that Paperhouse is more on a par with Snuff Movie in terms of overall quality, being the pretentious kind of drivel that often gets labelled as 'dark fairy-tale fantasy' or 'surreal visual poetry', when the words 'boring' and 'confusing' would be far more apt and to the point.

While I am sure that the film works for some as an allegory for all sorts of themes—growing up, loss of innocence, coping with grief, yadda, yadda, yadda—the fact is that Paperhouse is dreary, slow and, contrary to what many have written here on IMDb, poorly acted (the cast perform their lines as though they are reading from an auto-cue).

Fans of equally poncey guff like The Company of Wolves will no doubt lap this up, but if I want to see a film about a young woman struggling to come to terms with responsibility and unable to separate reality and fiction, I'll take Labyrinth any day of the week: at least that one has a talking dog astride a bigger dog, some great songs from David Bowie and, last but by no means least, the lovely Jennifer Connelly.

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