A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The House is an animated Korean film with English subtitles featuring complex themes about gentrification, the meaning of community, death, loss, and the inevitability of change. Kids younger than teenagers are unlikely to engage here, even as they may enjoy the quirky spirits that haunt the houses. Teenagers are a more fitting target, but it should be noted that the issues presented are not tidily resolved in the way Western audiences are likely accustomed.
What's the story?
The jobless Ga-young (Kim Kkobbi) rooms with her friend Hee-ju (Ha Jae-sook) in a slummy neighborhood in Seoul, Korea, but longs for winning the lottery and moving on up to a shiny new condominium being developed nearby. But she soon learns that the shabby houses in her run-down neighborhood have more than history -- they're haunted by spirits who watch over and cherish the intimate details of their lives. When the neighborhood is slated for redevelopment, Ga-young is forced to rethink her position on the value of the community, history, and the cost of the relentless pursuit of change.
Is it any good?
Parents may find the debate here oversimplified, but in some ways that's a good thing for younger viewers, who can easily digest the issues presented so intelligently here. And if that fails to grab them, they may still be transfixed by the imaginative spirits who watch over the houses, their search for the "God of Land" and the unexpected ways they try to hold on to the keepsakes every house leaves behind.
If you're looking for a captivating way to introduce heady issues like gentrification, old vs. new, and the debate about pushing forward while trying to salvage some of the past, The House is a sweet, quirky, often funny, if dispiriting, solution. The Korean animation mixes in real photos and footage from a presumably real neighborhood in Seoul, and sometimes veers into a lovely, watercolor-like palate of dreaminess as it navigates the two young female roommates with different values, and the spirit ghosts they befriend along the way.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about neighborhoods. Have you noticed changing neighborhoods where you live or near where you live? How is the issue discussed in your community? Are there people who support or protest the change? What are the arguments for and against the developments?
The House takes great pains to show the value of old things over new things. What old things do you have or own in your house that you value? Is your house old or new? Are there any practices or heirlooms in your family passed down from generation to generation?
How is The House similar to other ghost stories you've seen or heard? How is it different?
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