PAPERHOUSE was based upon the book "Marianne Dreams" by Catherine Storr and I'd love to read it one day. If it's anything like the film, it is a masterful combination of horror, fantasy, and children's character study (a la CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE). PAPERHOUSE was directed by Bernard Rose with great skill and sensitivity and, as I've said, avoids all pitfalls towards sentimentality or cliche. Unlike most, this film is REALLY a family film which can be watched by adults and children with equal enjoyment. The fantasy elements are beautifully handled while the characters are drawn quite realistically -- and there are indeed several moments of genuinely scary horror. The looming, scary figure in Anna's dream is photographed in such a way as to remind one of similar shots of Robert Mitchum in Charles Laughton's NIGHT OF THE HUNTER. PAPERHOUSE also reminds me quite a lot, in mood and spirit, of the much later DONNIE DARKO. In fact, the perfect triple feature marathon would be a showing of these three movies in a row. The acting is, without exception, excellent. Charlotte Burke, as Anna, is necessarily the backbone of the film and the casting of a less-than-effective child actor would've been ruinous. Thankfully, Burke is absolutely sensational in the role; which makes it puzzling that she apparently never made another film before or since! Glenne Headley (an actress I've always had a lot of time for) is superb as Anna's confused yet supportive mother and Ben Cross is excellent as well as Anna's absentee father. Then, of course, there's my beloved Gemma Jones who is wonderfully empathetic as Anna's (and Marc's) doctor. Even young Elliot Spiers is great as Marc; and he even has a passing resemblance to a young Jake Gyllenhall -- so there's even more of a tie with DONNIE DARKO in my mind! I really can't say enough about this wonderful little film; it is just so good that it should've found an audience but somehow never did. Of course, anything I can do to raise awareness of the film. . .
While the movie is, as noted, ridiculously unavailable on DVD, you can in fact watch the entire film on youtube. I am usually reluctant to suggest such a thing because the viewing experience (and picture quality) is not what I would wish for someone watching PAPERHOUSE for the first time. However, it's better you see it in any way possible than to miss it completely. Therefore, I highly recommend you venture over to youtube and watch the movie (broken up into parts, naturally) by clicking on this link here. I promise you won't be disappointed.