Thu. Jan 20th, 2022

It may be difficult for first-time buyers to get on the real estate ladder, but no matter how discouraged one becomes, it’s probably best to turn down a free home if it’s by a giggling, rogue architect. the forest is offered to you.

This is just one of the many pieces of wise advice one can get from watching The House, a new collection of outrageous, stop-motion animated fables for adults that all take place in an ominous home. Others are about sales (make sure no one moves in during an open house viewing) and renovations (bohemian handymen may steal your floorboards to build a boat).

It may be obvious at this point that the Netflix program – a collaboration between the award-winning Irish playwright Enda Walsh and the celebrated Nexus animation studio – is something of a curiosity. The House anarchically resists any neat categorization by genre or style. Instead, it happily occupies the teenage corridors and liminal spaces between comedy and horror, art and entertainment, commentary, and undiluted absurdity.

The changing nature of the program, in which the house and a pervasive strange atmosphere are the only constants, is largely due to the fact that each of the three half-hour stories was developed by different directors, bringing their own style.

The first is a period piece that follows a family of black-eyed, macrocephalic humanoids trying to regain their long-faded nobility after the father (with the voice of Matthew Goode) signs a Faustian agreement allowing them to move from their crumbling house to move to a grand cottage. mansion. It soon becomes apparent that the house is occupied by the sadistic spirit of its designer, who plays and tortures with its occupants.

Then, just as things come to a dramatic crescendo, the story ends, and the series moves from the sinister to the dead. We find ourselves with an anxious real estate developer (Jarvis Cocker) who, unusual for a rodent, struggles to make the house more attractive for sale. In the way that the fine attention to detail merges with some disarming visual gags, it plays out almost like a mini West Anderson film – one shot through with desperation rather than whimsy.

The final chapter – which deals with a hostess and her hippie-like cat tenants (literally cool cats, one played by Helena Bonham Carter), in a house left by an ecological disaster – again brilliantly undermines expectations. Here the appearance changes from nightmare-like to oneiries; the humor becomes softer and the emotions more sensitive.

It is possible to see the morals of these stories – the traps of superficial materiality, the vanity of self-improvement – although it may be better to just be carried away by the cheerful ambiguity and strangeness of it all. It will not be to everyone’s taste, but if you’re the kind of person who prefers an attic full of jumble jewelery over a carefully composed living room, then this is one home worth visiting.

★★★★ ☆

From January 14 on Netflix

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