Give me Devon Sawa, or give me a Hobbit hole
When it’s the apocalypse, escape may be your only relief.
In the old days, getting away from it all was just a fun way to disconnect and pass the time. Now that we live in a plague-ravaged, subtly racist and terrifying hell-mouth idiocracy, we need something to help balance our state of desperation and disbelief at rest.
Maybe that’s why our Pajiba slack recently had so much fun pondering the question “if you could stay in any movie house for a night, where would you go?” Our thread was inspired by Steven sharing this AirBnB announcement for the OG Alone at home in-house article, and it’s quickly gone from there.
Honestly, I’m a little torn about this. The AirBnB “one night only” Alone at home the list is undoubtedly silly and expensive, and even the charity label doesn’t entirely mask the bad aftertaste. This promotion was clearly designed to pave the way for another reboo- and yes, just in the second line of the article, it says this offer is tied to an upcoming Disney + reboot. Blergh.
For all these reasons, my initial reaction to this list was more of the “ugh, capitalism” type. But I started to think about how cool it would be to live in a movie for an evening. No strings attached, bring whoever you want, completely free. I just couldn’t resist this premise. Almost without my permission, my imagination decided to dive head first into a list of happy escapes from modern reality.
Of course, I couldn’t just settle for the good ones and make a bright and happy little list for myself. Not me. Apparently I can’t help but torture myself for no reason (calling EL James, calling EL James). So I also started to think about all the places I would never stay under any circumstances.
Funny enough, I noticed a common thread running through my “Gimme it” list and my “oh no no” list. Either way, what qualifies a home for a spot on the list isn’t just the space itself. It’s also all of the attributes and production values of the original film that make it so interesting. It’s all the hard work of the scouts, set designers, propmasters, and other critical members of the film crew that really makes these homes so memorable.
After all, half the reason I want to stay at the Burrow is because the house cooks and cleans on its own. What if the Casper house doesn’t include a spiral staircase leading to a secret lab and the childhood of Devon Sawa who asks if he can keep me, what’s even the point?
This also extends to backyards, as I expect Totoro and his Dust Bunny pals to relax in my digs in Miyazaki. While the Catbus might just mock her creepy ass all the way to the nightmare section at the bottom, please and thank you.
Casper House (from 1995 classic, Casper)
Gothic isn’t really my style, and I would usually never stay in a haunted house on purpose. Yet, I always happily add this place to the top of my list. The house itself is beyond beauty, and it feels like a place you’d never really finish exploring. There’s one hell of a ballroom, and she’s practically begging you to run wild in her fancy nooks while denouncing your local bullies. They even managed to make the attic and basement a little less spooky. Plus there’s the very adorable Casper, his entertaining uncles, Christina Ricci herself being fabulous, Bill Pullman in full-fledged DILF mode – and did I mention the secret lab with wheelchair roller coaster? Yeah. Exceptions will be made.
Blank check and Richie rich Mansions
Although they are technically two different films with different storylines (and Blank check hasn’t aged well), they’re both centered around rich, young, white kids who have amazing homes. I could easily launch into a spiel about the socio-economic privileges inherent in our country and how our ever-growing class disparities are fully exposed in these films made for children. Or I could turn off my brain and go down the slide that goes from my castle straight into the pool. Waving my hands happily as I scream my way up the roller coaster in my backyard. Treat yourself to a snack at my own private concession stand. And make a mental note to burn down the patriarchy later in the week.
Mei and Satsuki’s house in My neighbor Totoro
I recently reviewed this, and honestly it’s just as good as when I was little. There is something so welcoming about the simple eloquence and innate tranquility of this home. Miyazaki’s films are like living art, and each image could easily be a painting. I vividly remember being a five year old watching this with my face pressed against the screen so I could soak up everything (sorry, mom). I especially liked the scene where they start to explore their amazing new home. When the adorable Dust Bunnies wander their garden and wander the woods in the magical hollow where Totoro was napping, I wanted to follow so badly that I could taste it. Apparently a wonderful human recreated this beautifully rendered vision in real life, so this now goes straight to the top of my post-pandemic travel list.
Addams Family Values lodge
I know I said goth is not really my style, but come on. I’m just a human. How fun would it be to sip questionable wine with Granny and elegantly exchange gossip with Morticia while watching Wednesday and Pugsley’s subtle attempts to kill each other? Let’s face it – anyone who’s ever had a sibling secretly craves their occasional indulgence of one or two murderous impulses. This house is just the perfect embodiment of the incredibly camping and delightfully eccentric family that lives there, and it feels like a jaw-dropping blast, too. Of course, the entire original cast would be there like magic – including the one man who will ever do justice to Gomez Addams, the late and still great Raul Julia.
Frodo’s house in the Shire, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
I specifically name the house of Frodo because it is the one we have seen the most. Also because her pantry is legitimate – that’s one of her only good traits. But I’d be happy with any of those adorable, smart, cozy homes in the hills. Hobbiton’s brightly colored doors seem to encourage you to come in and rest before your second breakfast. I’ve always had a soft spot for homes that seem to harmonize perfectly with the world around them. Curved and subtle spaces that seem to be built around nature rather than the other way around. Hobbiton appears to be the equivalent of a cozy blanket and a mug of hot apple cider on a cold day. Listen to the wind howl and roar outside while you are happily snuggled up by the fire. This sense of refuge seeps into your bones even when you are only looking at it on a screen. Imagine what it would be like to stay here, even for a week. You would be so rejuvenated, so relaxed that GOOP would send you a cease and desist letter.
Honorable mention goes to Lothlorien from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, the sequel to Jasmine with the tiger as a bonus Aladdin, pretty much everyone at home Vacations, Nick’s ancestral Singaporean wonder in crazy rich asians, and Le Terrier du Harry potter series.
And then there are a whole bunch of movies that I would never want to spend the night in. Even if it was just the house and none of the features of the movie itself – difficult going. The full list is way longer than I could possibly describe, but many of the basics are the same. Anything with a creepy doll or a creepy kid I’m leaving. Anywhere a dark-haired person is going to be murdered first, bye. Anywhere that looks like Dolores Umbridge herself threw a sadistic rose decorating party, I’m fine.
Personally, I have nothing but love for all of my horror movie friends, and I can certainly see the appeal of staying in a house that embodies your favorite genre (see: all the words I’ve written above). It’s always a hard no on my part.
Maybe it’s not all that surprising that at the top of my oh no-no list is the terrifying death mansion of The haunting. I’m also good at never entering the richly spooky mansion of Crimson woodpecker.
You can keep the “pre-war splendor” (read: racist mierda) from Interview with the vampire Where Blown away by the wind. The same goes for the tangibly oppressive nonchalance of Rose’s house in Get out. Even though the man himself is not at home, I can do without Patrick Bateman’s chic serial killer apartment at American psychopath. Ditto the spooky, glass-cut perfection of Nathan’s house in Ex Machina or the immaculate “no human could ever live here” ambiance of the Vanger house in The girl with the dragon tattoo.
You will find me running firmly in the opposite direction for all these nightmare houses. Unless a certain ghost-turned-human shows up, or Pajiba 10 Hall of Fame member John Cho does.
If that happens, all bets are off, and I would immediately turn into the slasher movie victim you keep screaming at for not entering the murder house. I don’t apologize.
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Sources of images (in order of publication): Getty Images, IMDB, Manorof Speaking.org, Studio Ghibli, Booking.com, Getty