When his grandfather dies in mysterious circumstances with a cryptic message, Jake starts wondering whether the fantastical stories he told about his life could in fact, be real. With his school councillor recommending a trip away, Jake discovers a place that is exactly as his grandfather described: a group of remarkable children living in a ‘time loop’ (a single day that is reset over and over) who are looked after by their formidable guardian, Miss Peregrine. Accepting the truth comes relatively easy to Jake but learning that he and the others are in danger from a vicious enemy, puts him in the centre of a perilous and terrifying situation.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016) – Director: Tim Burton
Running Length: 127 mins
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Eva Green, Samuel L. Jackson
Genre: Fantasy, Horror
Based upon the novel of the same name by Raymond Riggs, ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’ follows teenager, Jake who lives an ordinary but less than perfect life who struggles with the death of his grandfather who was always much closer to him than his parents. Believing in his amazing stories as a child but losing faith in them in his older years, Jake is suddenly forced to accept the truth when he visits Wales with his father and happens upon the eponymous ‘Home’ and its inhabitants. Re-living the same day constantly takes its toll on some of the children more than others, but knowing that this is the only way to survive allows them to accept what they have and fear the world outside of their bubble, not only because leaving it would mean an untimely death but also a malevolent and deadly force is targeting children like them.
His grandfather’s stories were such an integral part of his childhood that despite Jake’s lack of belief later in life, accepting that the fantasy is real is relatively easy. His home life isn’t exactly ideal but he has a believable strength to his character that helps him get through, ensuring that the movie can focus on the more interesting aspects of the plot rather than Jake’s angst, awkwardness or incredulity. Movies like this often struggle with pacing as well as balancing fantasy with reality but Tim Burton’s experience with this genre means that ‘Miss Peregrine’ maintains realism even when there are children running around with ravenous mouths in the backs of their heads or huge terrifying monsters loping around and the plot is strong enough to last the duration, never running out of steam.
The target audience is somewhat undecipherable, seemingly a story for teens and tapping into the all-important ‘Young Adult’ genre, it is a little childish however the genuinely scary moments are enough to ensure that it is definitely not a kids’ film. Luckily, it is good enough to withstand its younger style so that Burton fans (teens and adults alike) will love it.
IS ‘MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?
Two characters drive in a car in a residential neighbourhood at night, a fog suddenly descends ensuring that the scene automatically becomes ominous. Suddenly the outline of a man is seen in the middle of the road, forcing them to swerve, as they drive past him, he stares into the car with purely white eyes.
There are numerous times when dead bodies that have had their eyes removed are seen; no blood is ever seen, however the black, empty sockets are usually shown in close-up. The victims of these attacks are usually children, one of which suddenly becomes animated, they sit up in bed with the head lolling to one side and their mouth moves in a grotesque manner. The eyes of the victims are eaten, huge gruesome dishes piled high with eyeballs are served up and those consuming them greedily stuff great handfuls into their mouths.
The most frightening aspect of the movie is the creatures called ‘Hollows’, they are huge monsters with no eyes and a large, tentacle-filled mouth with dagger-like teeth, they lope about in a very creepy way and are invisible to almost everyone. They are very aggressive and kill whoever they come across, including young children. These creatures are extremely scary and are prevalent throughout the movie to the point where it is difficult to avoid the scenes that they are in.
A character walks alone around the ruins of a building, the music is very ominous and although the character is not afraid at first, a few bumps and creaks cause him to be increasingly apprehensive. They suddenly see an ethereal silhouette of a girl nearby who speaks to them, the shock of seeing her appearing like a ghost terrifies him, making him run away, stumbling and falling on the debris which is all over the floor.
A teenage girl who has been introduced to the story as a ‘good’ character sets a building on fire which is full of people. No suffering is seen and she is escaping with some friends, however the people inside are unlikely to all be able to get out and have done little to deserve this kind of fate. Very soon after, another ‘good’ character says that they recently had to kill some policemen due to their presence being inconvenient.
A character is able to reanimate dead things and brings to life two creatures made of animal parts with doll heads. There is a vicious fight between them and culminates in one stabbing the other and killing it. The character responsible says that he has done this to people too.
A character is killed by having their eyes stabbed out, this is done onscreen, in close-up. There is no blood but this is very graphic, they scream as the sharp finger-like appendages stab into their eye sockets which are then pulled out, bringing the character’s eyes with them.
CAN I SEE A CLIP?
‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’ is certainly a unique story, one that has been executed brilliantly however, despite the trailers, it is unlikely to be one for kids. Due to some strong scenes of scares and violence against children, we feel this movie is not appropriate for kids aged under twelve.
- Violence: 5/5 (it is made clear throughout the movie that there have potentially been hundreds of children killed by having their eyes removed because there are numerous platters piled high with hundreds of eyeballs that are ravenously eaten by the huge monsters. A young girl is held underwater and the surface is frozen so that she is unable to get out, her attacker says ‘wait until the blood freezes in your veins’)
- Emotional Distress: 2/5 (Jake is very upset when his grandfather is killed, the two were very close and Jake struggles with his death (albeit mildly) throughout the film)
- Fear Factor: 4/5 (There is a sense of foreboding throughout the movie and the score ensures that most scenes are very ominous. There are a few scenes that become quite tense when characters are being watched or followed or when characters know that they are in a potentially dangerous situation. Dead bodies are shown in close-up, including a man who has fallen off a cliff and landed on a large, sharp rock which has likely broken his back)
- Sexual Content: 0/5
- Bad Language: 3/5 (some mild and moderate cursing and blasphemy)
- Dialogue: 1/5 (after discovering a body that has been mauled by animals, a character says ‘dogs go for the soft parts’ This is repeated after a similar incident later in the movie)
- Other Notes: Deals with themes of family, friendships, not judging someone by their outward appearance, jealousy, accepting a less than perfect but good existence, trust, courage, integrity and that differences make you unique, not an outcast.
Words by Laura Record