Monster House Gil Kenan

It’s a sad statement that even this CGI kid pic stands head and shoulders above the rest, but such are the times in which we live. As the title no doubt suggests, the issue is that rickety old house across the street that has suddenly taken on a new life — that is, suckering pedestrians into getting close enough to be eaten.

With Halloween just around the corner, it’s rather urgent that this house gets shuttered, which is why three 13 year olds (the skittish boy, prep-school girl and overweight doofus) must do their utmost to kill the beast at its heart.

Befitting a Robert Zemeckis production, this has loads of "tongue in cheek” humour and a deeply withering attitude towards women. The house’s mystery has to do with the ravenous appetite of a female, and those of us who took Women in Film 101 know what that trip’s all about. Still, the film stays pretty light on its feet and manages to be just short enough (under 90 minutes) to keep from wearing out its welcome.

True, doofus boy spits out one too many stale one-liners and we really should have evolved past the point of the antagonistic rocker/babysitter routine, but though you feel it’s all too familiar it still manages not to bore you silly. There’s a modicum of invention in how the house digests its victims and trace elements of style in Gil Kenan’s ominous direction; none of this makes it a paragon of originality, but it’s fine enough to mark time with while you’re moving or washing your hair.

The family audience I was with gave it a long ovation at screening’s end; so if you’re a family audience, queue up early. (Sony)