A film that makes your skin crawl and certainly does not make you feel at ease! ‘The House’ is a stop-motion animated dark humor produced by Netflix and Nexxon Studios. While stop motion animations have been extensively used in horror dramas in the past, the 2022 film attempted to recreate the trend. The film is not a mainstream horror, as every spooky element has a deep, embedded meaning. Moreover, this disturbing, creepy anthology is certainly not for the weak-hearted.
The film consists of three stories, across three eras, where the only common denominator is the main character: The House. It is a mystical place with sinister intentions that decides the fate of its residents!
Chapter One: Plot Summary – And Heard Within, A Lie Is Spun
The first story of the film starts in the late 1800s. A humble family of four: Raymond, his wife Penny, their nine-year-old daughter Mabel, and baby Isobel reside in an impoverished cottage in the middle of the woods.
One day the filthy rich relatives of the family make an undesirable drop-by at the cottage, who scornfully mock their living conditions. They call Raymond a worthless alcoholic gambler, just like his father.
Following the embarrassment, a drunk Raymond walks out into the wilderness to be by himself. While his family worries about him, Raymond loathes himself for being a pauper. Suddenly, he has a peculiar encounter with a dextrous architect named Mr Van Schoonbeek, who calls himself a friend of Raymond’s father. Mr Van Schoonbeek offers the family a hill-top mansion designed by him as a gift. The architect does not accept any money in return as he desires nothing more than creative satisfaction. However, the only condition is that the family must give up their cottage.
Greedily, Raymond jumps at the offer and moves to the new house with his family. The family is escorted to the house by Thomas, an apparent employee of Mr. Van Schoonbeek. The mansion is gloriously magnificent and plush with all kinds of luxuries. Never having seen something like this before, Raymond and Penny are starstruck by the house. On the other hand, with every step, Mabel gets more and more suspicious.
While Raymond is obsessed with the polished furniture in the house, Penny is delighted with the new sewing machine and fine-quality fabrics. Amidst the indulgences, the two start to neglect their children. Being the only one in her right senses, Mabel starts to take care of Isobel on her own. One night, Mabel is woken up by the chilling, sinister laughter of Mr. Van Schoonbeek. When she comes out of her room, she finds that the stairway downwards has been detached. Thomas informs her that the house is still under minor refurbishments.
‘The House’ Chapter One: Ending Explained
Mabel makes her way downstairs through the billiards room. Across the corridors, she discovers many perplexities. A few strange-looking artisans consistently saw different corners inside the house. By the time she reaches downstairs, Mabel finds out that their old house has been broken down by Mr Van Schoonbeek’s men. At night, Thomas offers the parents some bizarre clothes to try on: a tufted upholstered suit for Raymond and Penny, a curtain-like flowy dress. Shocked by their foolish attire, Mabel confesses that she hates their new house! To her surprise, she finds the lookalike interiors of their old cottage in the basement of the mansion and starts living there with Isobel.
Things start to take a more suspicious turn when Thomas asks Raymond to burn their old chairs, and as if spellbound, Raymond happily does so. While looking for some food for Isobel, Mabel sees Thomas weeping in a room. She finds out that Thomas is no employee but a mere actor who has been given a script to deceive the family. When Mabel hurries to inform her parents, she is horror-struck to see that Raymond has turned into a chair and Penny into a curtain! Suddenly, the violent flames from the fireplace begin burning the carpet. Penny, who has now turned into a curtain, urges Mabel to leave the place immediately and save Isobel. She extends her curtain drapes out the window through which Mabel and Isobel escape the house. Mabel looks back and notices how the beacon light at the hilltop has tragically turned to smoke.
Evidently, the house has been possessed by the spirit of Mr Van Schoonbeek. There are several instances where Thomas’ character looks uneasy as if he’s struggling to fight some voices in his head. As Raymond and Penny are consumed by their greed, only Mabel notices his strange behavior. Similarly, the artisans that tirelessly saw the house seem quite lost, as they are spellbound by the evil architect. The film has a few symbolic elements, like the story of Princess Esme (that Mabel reads from her book) that was the only person awake in the entire kingdom. This scene captures the exact emotions that Mabel experiences when everyone except her stops making sense.
Despite Mr. Van Schoonbeek’s intentions being unclear, the only people affected by his witchery were those whose inhibitions were not pure from the very beginning. Raymond and Penny were thrilled at the idea of making everyone else envy their opulence. Thomas came off as an actor who gave up his conscience to make money until he was possessed. However, Mabel and Isobel safely escaped the house as they were the only ones who were not swayed by greed and indulgence.
Also Read: ‘The House’ Chapter Two: Ending, Explained
‘The House’ Chapter One: And heard within, a lie is spun, directed by Emma de Swaef and Marc James Roels. It is streaming on Netflix.