Whether he is adapting well-known stories like Alice In Wonderland and Sleepy Hollow, or delivering his own unique fantasies in movies like Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands, director Tim Burton has always shown a gift for the macabre. Dark, twisted, and gothic are words often used to describe his movies, and they can all be utilised here, along with ‘scary’, ‘yucky’, and ‘too gruesome for younger viewers.’
Based on the young adult book by Ransom Riggs, this film isn’t meant for kids (or at least, not the under-11s) and parents should note that it probably is too creepy for younger or sensitive viewers (read the ‘Scary Moments’ notes below).
It’s the story of Florida teenager Jake (Butterfield), who finds his beloved grandfather (Terence Stamp) dead with his eyes missing (the first icky moment of the film) outside his home, and determines to find out what happened.
This involves a trip to Wales, as Jake’s granddad had told him bedtime stories of a mansion that was home to strange, gifted children during World War II. All of the kids there had odd abilities – think of Professor Xavier’s school in X-Men, but more gothic and weird – and the home was run by Miss Peregrine (Green), a glamorous woman who was able to turn into a bird.
There’s a twisty and pretty confusing time travel plot – Miss Peregrine resets time at the house so the children there live one day over and over again to keep them safe – but essentially, Jake finds the stuck-in-the-40s peculiar children (including one who is so light she would float away without her lead boots, one who sets fires and another who likes sticking animal organs in mutated toys and commanding them to fight) and has to help them fight off an attack from the truly creepy creatures who may have murdered his granddad.
While much of the movie – as you would expect from visual genius Burton – looks fantastic, it never quite works as a story on screen. There are numerous plot holes, annoying moments (mainly involving Chris O’Dowd as Jake’s dad, who gets deserted by his son so many times it’s silly) and, worst of all, teeth-gnashingly slow parts where characters have to explain what the hell is going on. The ending seems rushed, the hero is dull and, despite the title, the most interesting character – Miss Peregrine – gets relatively little screen time.
It’s a shame, as there are moments of genius (the stop-motion skeleton attack, the time-loop reset) but they are simply that – brief moments in an otherwise muddled movie.
Is Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
This film is a 12A certificate and is not suitable for younger children due to numerous scary images as follows:
The monsters (hollowgasts) are large, frightening looking creatures that will disturb most children.
The monsters prolong their lives by eating eyeballs. We see eyeballs being taken, in one scene a bowl of eyeballs are on a table and then eaten, and at least two characters are seen with black sockets where their eyes used to be.
The bad guys, including Mr Barron, have glowing eyes and jagged teeth that may frighten younger children.
One character brings twisted toys to life using animal organs, and later does the same to skeletons and a dead boy.