Paperhouse (1989)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Paperhouse Photos

Movie Info

Eleven-year-old Charlotte Burke, the neglected daughter of Ben Cross and Glenne Headley, passes out on the school playground and dreams of visiting a house she'd previously drawn in her composition book. She imagines another visit to her "paper house" while playing hide-and-seek. Experimenting, Burke draws a figure in the window of the house; the next time she dreams, she meets a young boy, as lonely as she. Convinced that she wields a large degree of power in her pencil, Burke draws a picture of her father, Cross, hoping that in doing so he will return home. But Burke is dissatisfied with the picture, and crosses it out--whereupon Cross shows up in her dreams as a murderous stalker. What happens next is a maelstrom of psychological horror, told completely from the child's point of view. Paperhouse is based on Marianne Dreams a novel by Catherine Storr.
Drama , Horror , Mystery & Suspense , Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Working Title Films

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Charlotte Burke
as Anna Madden
Glenne Headly
as Kate Madden
Ben Cross
as Dad Madden
Gemma Jones
as Dr. Sarah Nicols
Jane Bertish
as Miss Vanstone
Gary Bleasdale
as Policeman
Barbara Keogh
as Hotel Receptionist
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Paperhouse

All Critics (6) | Top Critics (1)

The scenes of Anna running around mountains in a moment of escape or toward an enormous lighthouse don't have the feel of something whitewashed like The Sound of Music but rather the dark undercurrent of the delusions of the girls in Heavenly Creatures.

Full Review… | February 28, 2012

A mesmerizing English film exploring the dreamscapes of a lonely eleven-year old girl.

Full Review… | August 28, 2004
Spirituality and Practice

A real sleeper: charming, scary, enthralling

August 26, 2004
Kalamazoo Gazette

More peculiar than actually good.

November 26, 2003
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Loses the children's audience that might have otherwise been attracted to the story

December 31, 1999

Quote not available.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Paperhouse


Dark, psychologically rich, evocative of childhood fever dreams and fantasies in a way I haven't experienced in a long time. Much of the protag's dialogue is dubbed, which contributes to the dreamy, surreal feel of the film rather than detracting from it. The art design is fabulous and fits in perfectly with the vaguely menacing, bleak moors where Anna dreams. In fact, it probably captures dreaming on a level I've only ever seen in The Science of Sleep (I usually hate movie dream sequences, so if Paperhouse had been done a bit less artfully, I would have hated it; half of the film takes place in Anna's dreams). While it's not as dangerous and therefore not as frightening as more conventional horror movies, it's certainly not afraid to play with hostility, abuse, fear, and mortal peril.

Adam Kranz
Adam Kranz

A drawing that became a dream. A dream that became reality. I think there is a tiny bit of a message hidden in a movie. It is a Unique Movie, unlike the movie House of Cards I enjoyed this a tiny bit more.

Wahida K
Wahida K

Super Reviewer


This was hugely distrubing to a ten year old boy when I watched it. Extremely odd little story but one that has stuck with me until now.

Barry Lappin
Barry Lappin

Super Reviewer

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