[Mild spoilers, 6/10]
One abiding feeling remains with me after watching Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: the kids are creepy AF.
There’s the cute little Goldilocked girl with a set of fangs in the back of her neck, a teen who can reanimate corpses using animal hearts, and a two identical masked child monsters. I’m not even mentioning the hollow eyed dead kid who has lived upstairs in the attic for the last half-century. In setting out his character palette, novelist Ransom Riggs has created a place of learning that would legitimately terrify me.
And yet, at the same time, there’s nothing to be terrified of because the kids in question (although different) are actually harmless. Therein lies the clunky parable of modern cinema: kids so “peculiar” we have to keep them safe in special houses lest they be murdered by us “normals”.
Given the state of the world, this seems legit. Thinking about Mexican walls, night club shootings, and Brexits, you can understand why being different can be so dangerous. One of these kids can project his nightmares through his glowing eyeball. In Lambeth, he’d be hunted down just for wearing his funny jackets.
While Team Good might be a little difficult to pick out in a crowd, Team Evil is much easier to spot than the brown or orange faced people I’m currently being taught to hate and fear. This movie’s monsters have (mostly) white eyes and the twist unmasking the Big Bad was a marvel of casting.
The big problem I have with these junior, junior X-Men is that I don’t care about the characters. Asa Butterfield brings to the film all the charisma of the awkward teen he’s grown into and Eva Green plays Peregrine so knowingly camp that I half expected her to burst into laughter at least a dozen times through the film. Don’t get me started on the poor use of Dame Judi Dench. Why buy a Ferrari but keep it in the garage?
The movie’s saving grace is that it’s one of Tim Burton’s best outings in recent years. While he had a lot of great material to work with, his fully realised fantasy world is as engaging as it is stunning. Kudos especially to the team who designed the underwater ship scene, which was quite simply a work of art.
Overall, it’s unnerving, visually engaging and ultimately fun (if a bit soulless). Which is pretty much every recent Burton film. Alice, I’m looking at you.