Paperhouse (1988)

PG-13  |   |  Drama, Fantasy  |  17 February 1989 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 4,162 users  
Reviews: 58 user | 27 critic

A young girl lost in the loneliness and boredom of reality finds solace in an ill boy, whom she can visit in a surreal dream world that she drew in her school composition book.



(novel), (screenplay)
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3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Charlotte Burke ...
Jane Bertish ...
Miss Vanstone
Samantha Cahill ...
Kate Madden
Sarah Newbold ...
Karen (Anna's school friend)
Gary Bleasdale ...
Elliott Spiers ...
Dr. Sarah Nicols
Dad Madden
Karen Gledhill ...
Barbara Keogh ...
Hotel receptionist


Anna is becoming lost in the loneliness of her own world when she discovers she can visit another, a house she has drawn herself and occupied by a young disabled boy. But as she discovers more of the links between her fantasy world and the mundane present, she is drawn only deeper into a dream turning into a nightmare. Written by David Carroll <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A drawing that became a dream. A dream that became reality. See more »


Drama | Fantasy


PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

17 February 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Paperhouse - Alpträume werden wahr  »

Box Office


$241,278 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


Despite playing the lead character in this film, Charlotte Burke never appeared in any film ever again. See more »


At the hospital, the chest radiograph that can be seen on the negatoscope is incorrectly positioned. It should be flipped horizontally, so the heart shadow mainly occupies the right half of the image (as if the examiner was in front of the patient). See more »


Dad Madden: Alright, if you want to play games. 1... 2... 3...
See more »


Version of Escape Into Night (1972) See more »


Music by Gabriel Fauré (as Faure)
Performed by Choristers of Westminster Cathedral
Published by Editions Harnelle
Arranged by Stanley Myers (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

Brilliant and inventive psychological fantasy
21 November 2000 | by (The Penumbra) – See all my reviews

The best horror movie you've never heard of. Though calling it a horror may be selling it short. Paperhouse is a profound psychological drama that deftly deals with themes of growing up, regret, sorrow, loss, resentment and leaving childhood innocence behind. Director Bernard Rose made his feature debut with this film and truly gave us something for the ages. Shot in 1988 there is very little that dates Paperhouse and it has the lasting ability to make new impressions upon every new generation.

Liberally adapted from Catherine Storr's novel "Marianne Dreams" (and not the first live-action adaptation either) the film follows a girl called Anna who falls ill with glandular fever on her 11th birthday. She draws a house on a shred of paper from her exercise book and falls into a dream in which the house exists as a lonely structure on a desolate landscape. Each subsequent dream that she has is altered by the presence of whatever she adds to the picture. In her third dream she meets a boy she thinks she has created called Marc. She befriends him and their relationship becomes stronger as the dreams become darker and scarier.

Charlotte Burke who plays Anna is a terrific actress and it is very strange that, after just one film, she should disappear and never be in anything ever again. She really does give a great performance. Eliott Spiers died in 1994 giving his sorrowful performance as Marc, Anna's dreamworld friend, a bittersweet edge. But special mention has to be made of Hans Zimmer's wonderful score. Eerie, mysterious, joyful with a hint of sadness; his score to Paperhouse has it all. It sounds a little bit too close to main melody of Broken Arrow, but when it's this good who cares? Along with Total Recall, Paperhouse proves that architects of subversive dreamworlds existed in film long before Christopher Nolan made it Inception.

25 of 31 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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