Paperhouse is the thinking person’s A Nightmare on Elm Street. A riveting fantasy film, centering on the vivid dreams and nightmares of an 11-year-old girl [from Catherine Starr’s novel], it heralds a new director of talent in Bernard Rose.
Anna (Charlotte Burke), psychologically disturbed, perhaps because of the frequent long absences from home of her beloved father (Ben Cross), has become a discipline problem at school via her bossy, unappealing ways. While undergoing minor punishment, she faints and finds herself by a strange house on a cliff-top, a house similar to one she’d earlier drawn on paper.
Gradually, she discovers that as she embellishes the drawing, she can enter the house in her dreams. Between her dreams, Anna discovers her kindly doctor (Gemma Jones) is treating a dying boy who seems to be identical to a boy in the house.
There’s no violence in this film, but there’s considerable suspense and tension. Crucial to the film’s success is a superb soundtrack, with a strong music score, but also heightened sound effects of great impact.