For those who may find director Tim Burton’s delightful adaptation of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children too creepy, well, the man does make creepy movies. It’s his forte. The presence of inhuman creatures with long, slithering tongues or the sight of evil beings slurping down children’s eyeballs should not surprise you.
Based on the 2011 Ransom Riggs book, the film follows a teen (Asa Butterfield) who discovers that the titular home his grandfather (Terence Stamp) told stories about is real, and still run by the magical Miss Peregrine (Eva Green), who has placed the sanctuary, and its peculiar kids, in a time loop, circa 1943, to keep it hidden from a villainous shapeshifter (Samuel L. Jackson).
While creepiness is certainly present — in the aforementioned creatures, called Hollows, in the girl with a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth on the back of her head — and may indeed frighten some tots, I think enough lighter fantasy exists to balance it out. Like the invisible boy, or the kid who can project his dreams, or the girl (Ella Purnell) who can manipulate the air itself.
Burton’s wonderful, inherent oddness really asserts itself during the finale, when the tall, stilt-legged Hollows (which only a few peculiars can see) engage in a crazy battle with some revived skeletons. It almost feels like the Burton of yore, the Beetlejuice Burton: creative and weird and funny, only with a bigger budget and more seamless effects.
Lanky Brit Butterfield (Hugo, Ender’s Game), affecting an American accent, proves a good choice as the hero of the story, convincingly changing from an awkward sort into a more confident person. He gets a sweet and capable love interest in Purnell, whose character, who has not aged since the 1940’s, Stamp (perfectly cast) also loved as a young man.
Jackson and Green are the standouts, though. Jackson, sporting unsettling, milky white eyes, coolly and amusingly conveys his character’s evilness without resorting to yelling. Green, simply put, makes the movie. She’s the perfect headmistress/mother figure — prim and proper, but also warm and thoughtful (and just a little sad). And did I mention she can turn into a bird? – [DVD] [Blu-Ray]
DVD Release Date: 12/13/16