Monster house: Reinforcing VAW in a Children’s Film

My kids have watched this film a few times while I’ve pottered about around them listening but not really listening. It is incredibly dire with the over-protective mother and emotionally distant father routine. Honestly, it’s like Feminine Mystique: The Animation. This Halloween, though, I actually sat down and watched it. And, whimpered. Followed, swiftly by rage. Lots and lots of rage. I haven’t actually binned the film as I don’t want other children to watch it so it’s joined Scooby-Doo meets the Harlem Globetrotters in my box of Evil Films.

The film starts with a young boy spying on his neighbours with binoculars. Now, technically, the boy is spying on his evil toy-stealing male neighbour but his father seems to be under the impression that the boy is looking at women with his binoculars. Apparently, it is totally normal for young boys to spy on women and then wank. It’s not at all creepy or, you know, sexual violence. I may have shrieked in rage at this point. After I said, WTF is that doing in a children’s movie. They don’t actually say wank but the implication is there.

Mom and Dad then piss off leaving the boy in the charge of a baby-sitter who hates him. Baby-sitters boyfriend, who is a pillock, rocks up and sexually assaults the baby-sitter. Yep, it’s a kids movie where the boyfriend pins his girlfriend on the couch to force her into having sex with him. Now, she does kick his ass out of the house telling the boyfriend that he lacks respect for women which would be good if the next morning the she doesn’t go looking for the abusive boyfriend because she loves him. We couldn’t possibly have a film where a sexually abusive boyfriend gets the boot. Permanently.

Then, along comes a new girl who is the same age as the young boy: about 12. There’s a lovely line where she responds to the boys confusion by asking if they are mentally challenged because if they are, she’s certified to teach them baseball. I may have been whimpering at this point in sheer rage.

Oh, and the basic plot of the film: house is possessed by the spirit of a dead woman who steals children’s toys which land on the grass around it. The old man is her husband and he is only “evil” because he’s trying to protect the neighbourhood children from his dead, morbidly obese circus freakshow of a wife. Because, you see, that is why is she is angry and frightened. This woman spent her life in as a freakshow act in a circus where people paid money to come and laugh and humiliate her. She dies by falling into the foundations of the house as its being built because she is paranoid about being humiliated; a fairly justified paranoia. 

FFS, the entire point of the movie is that the evil house is possessed by the frightened and angry spirit of an emotionally abused and tortured woman. The children destroy the house and the old man thanks them from saving him from his evil dead wife. 

I actually can’t believe that anyone could think this was a good film. But, then, I don’t understand why people watch reality TV. To me, that is nothing more than the 21st century version of a 19th century freakshow. We are invited to laugh and jeer at vulnerable people and we pay to financially support their exploitation. It doesn’t feel like much has really changed in 200 years; just how we exploit the most vulnerable members of our communities for our entertainment: in reality television, the music industry and pornography.

And, I can not stress how guilty i feel having allowed my kids to watch this without knowing just how awful it really is.

2 thoughts on “Monster house: Reinforcing VAW in a Children’s Film”

  1. If you think Monster House is guilt inducing, never, ever let them watch The Reef, a film which seems to be about fish, but is in fact about sexual violence in water. Woman fish sleeps with shark so her boyfriend doesn’t get eaten by said shark. My daughter picked it out because she’d watched it at school…

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