Indeed, 'Paperhouse' reaches its zenith as a scary movie about an hour in, and from then on becomes a sort of psychological drama as Anna - the young female protagonist - attempts to deal with her illness-induced problems in the real world.
The film's recurring dream sequences stem from 11 year old Anna's basic pencil drawings during a bout of glandular fever and work superbly; giving the film a strong visual motif from the outset and drawing lingeringly on childhood fears and desires, some of which are proved to be frighteningly irretractable.
The use of the shadowed father figure (Ben Cross) - absent in the real world - as the antagonist in these dreams provides the film with its effective shock moments, and Rose makes excellent, sparing use of sound and composition. The 'Paperhouse' itself is a stark, concrete vision and acts as a creepy purgatory for the children, in a way that almost intones the cold, stone corridors of Clive Barker's visions of hell.
Charlotte Burke as Anna doesn't always entirely convince in the acting stakes but she has a very difficult task of holding together the fantasy and realistic elements, and certainly conveys both the charm and the infuriating nature possessed by an 11 year old. American star Glenne Headly also makes a welcome appearance as Anna's under-pressure mother.
'Paperhouse' is fairly easy and cheap to get hold of in on DVD in the UK, and is certainly worth a punt for fans of ghost stories, if not those of out-and-out horror. It is to me also strongly reminiscent of Frank LaLoggia's 'Lady In White' from the same era in its dream-like passages; and would make a great double bill with it.
It has a good story and good actors!
This is a very touching movie
Not exactly what I was expecting it to be but still it was pretty good.
The Story: A young girl finds she can visit a world that she's drawn out on paper. Trying to make the her fantasy world a nice place to visit, she starts adding things, but finds herself making mistakes, creating a friend that can't walk, a house with no interior, and a faceless father with a violent temper. She can't decide weather or not she wants to live in her made up world, or in the real world with her critical mother, and her absent father...It's got a great art style, and the world that's been created is simplisticly beautiful. When I sat down, I was thinking I was going to see a great, fast paced film, full of heart pounding suspense and genuine scares, but this is not that film. It takes a while to get to the really exciting stuff, and the really exciting stuff only lasts for about 15 or 20 minutes (give or take). Also, some of the characters seem really underdeveloped, you hear about her father, but you rarely see him, and you only get a small glimpse into his history and story (did I miss something? Why is he always gone? What does he do? How long has he been gone? Where is he?). He only seems to be of importance in her fantasy world...One other thing worth mentioning here, is the score, musically this film is superb. The use of electric guitar is surprisingly fitting here. The music only adds to the already brilliantly moody atmosphere.
The Cast: Charlotte Burke, Elliott Spiers...Charlotte Burke plays the part of Anna, the little girl with the endless imagination. She's responsible for the world that she's created. Responsible for all the good things, and responsible for all the bad things. She brings the story to life with great, believable acting. Elliott Spiers, plays Marc, Annas friend in her fantasy world. He can't walk or really get around on his own, so he's constantly left in the dark on his own. He's a character that you'll feel a solid connection with, due to the fact that the actor is really good. These two bring their characters to life, and pull you into the world of Paperhouse, and once you're in, you won't want out.
One to Five Scale: 4
It takes a little while to get to anything really suspensefull, and the suspense only lasts for a little while, but the overall feel of the film, and interesting characters, make it worth your attention. Go out and find a copy of this now, because if you don't you'll be forced to wander around wondering what else this life has to offer.