released: 1977

directed by: Nobuhiko Obayashi


written by: David Botros


I knew zero things going in, and being glad that I did, I shan’t even try to explain what this movie is about.

Not that this movie can be ruined by spoilers –

It just can’t really be explained.

One of those stories that wouldn’t work in any other medium.

You can’t read House, you can’t see it on stage, you can’t even have it described to you:

It can only be this movie.

And this movie plays with the properties of film unlike anything I’ve seen before.

The screen becomes clay; every single shot is like its own living organism.

You know how in a narrative feature you expect shots to work within the context of other shots?

Take that, crumple it up and toss it out of your head.

Every new cut is more staggering than the last.

One doesn’t know what to expect in the next scene, let alone the next frame.

That is not to say that this is some highbrow art film that you pass along a gallery wall.

A lot of the effects are intentionally rough and unrealistic – something the director meant to appear as though a child had created them.

A disturbed child, to be sure.

House is labelled as a horror film, but it’s not horror in the traditional sense;

Although there’s a great deal of red, it doesn’t fit as a slasher;

There are tense moments, but they don’t resolve themselves as a thriller would.

It is horror through imagery, pure visuals.

Beneath it all there is definitely a structure that invites speculation – many have pointed to one scene in particular as a reflection on Hiroshima, the director Obayashi having been personally affected by the bombings.

It’s like we’re looking through a lens pointed directly into his mind.


For that reason (need there be any other?), this movie is special.

Copyright © 2021 David Botros