Paperhouse (1988)

Genres - Drama, Fantasy  |   Sub-Genres - Fantasy Adventure, Psychological Drama  |   Release Date - Feb 17, 1989 (USA)  |   Run Time - 94 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Derek Armstrong

Bernard Rose's Paperhouse is one of the great unknown art house horror films of the last quarter century, just for the sheer vividness of its psychological terrorscape. Once the supernatural link between Anna's crayon and her dream world is firmly established, the film takes the viewer on a hallucinatory trip that's full of foreboding. Given how the slightest alterations of the drawing have repercussions in her dreams -- the boy in the house can't walk, because he was given no legs -- it's with terrific anxiety that the viewer watches Anna violently scratch out the likeness of her father. The nightmare that follows delivers the kind of wordless horror that can only exist in the mind of a child, fixing for the viewer an unforgettable image of the angry paternal figure that lurks in the back rooms of the mind. The scenes outside of the fantasy world are of a slower pace, but they do show the real-world manifestations of Anna's fevered mental state, and flesh out some of the themes that appear in her drawing. Following this visually masterful debut, Rose went on to explore more mainstream horror filmmaking in 1992's Candyman.