PAPERHOUSE opens on the 11th birthday of Burke, whose relationship with her mother (Headly) is strained and whose father (Cross) is away on business, as he often is. At school, Burke passes out and, dreaming, finds herself in the middle of large grassy field that leads to a house like one
that she has drawn in her notebook. When Burke is revived, Headly arrives to take her to the doctor, but Burke claims that she faked the fainting spell and her mother makes her go back to school. Burke's vivid dreaming continues, however, with a young boy (Spiers) playing a key role in them, and
Burke soon recognizes a relationship between her notebook drawings and her dreams. With PAPERHOUSE, producers Tim Bevan and Sarah Radclyffe, the founders of Working Title Productions (MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE; PERSONAL SERVICES; SAMMY AND ROSIE GET LAID), and director Bernard Rose have arrived at
an extremely inventive premise for what is essentially a horror film. Unfortunately, their execution is not the equal of their conceptual inventiveness. Eschewing standard gore and violence, opting for less sensational situations, and refusing to round up the usual suspects, they have explored the
troubled subconscious of a young girl through a horror film approach. The film offers plenty of tension in the early going, but after the initial shock of the approach wears off, it becomes less frightening. Although Charlotte Burke--chosen from 1,500 would-be Annas and making her acting debut--is
convincingly innocent and confused, the other actors contribute less to the proceedings. Glenne Headly (MAKING MR. RIGHT; DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS) is hampered by a post-filming decision to make her erstwhile American character English and to have her loop her character's dialogue in two days.
Still, she is far more successful than Ben Cross (CHARIOTS OF FIRE), who appears to be sleepwalking even when he's not. In the final analysis, the makers of PAPERHOUSE deserve a great deal of credit for the risks they took, but the idea of the film is more interesting than the film itself.
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- Released: 1988
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: PAPERHOUSE opens on the 11th birthday of Burke, whose relationship with her mother (Headly) is strained and whose father (Cross) is away on business, as he often is. At school, Burke passes out and, dreaming, finds herself in the middle of large grassy fie… (more)