In Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, the latest fantasy from director Tim Burton, Asa Butterfield plays Jake, a 16-year-old plagued by nightmares following a family tragedy.
On the advice of his therapist, the teen embarks on an overseas journey to find the abandoned orphanage where his late grandfather claims to have once lived. Not only does the place turn out to be real, it also serves as the gateway to an alternate realm where children with strange powers are looked after by a magical guardian (Penny Dreadful star Eva Green) and time moves of its own accord.
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Due Sept. 30, the movie is based on Ransom Riggs’ hit 2011 novel, which was inspired, in part, by otherworldly vintage photographs (like the cover shot of a levitating girl) that the author collected at flea markets and included in the book. Burton said he, too, found inspiration in those images.
“They’re quite compelling,” Burton says. “They remind me of old horror movies, or dreams.”
‘A scary Mary Poppins’
Green (with Butterfield and Georgia Pemberton) stars as the title character, a shape-shifter known as an ymbryne. She protects her charges (called peculiars) from hungry monsters known as hollows. “She’s like a scary Mary Poppins, and she can turn into a bird,” Burton says.
Jake (Butterfield) finds an unlikely romance with Emma (Ella Purnell), who, in an earlier life, also had a special bond with Jake’s grandfather. “It was nice to shoot on location, to be connected to a place and geography while having people actually floating, as opposed to doing it all digitally,” Burton says of the production, which counted Florida, Belgium, and Cornwall county in the south of England among its locales.
‘A weird family’
The orphanage’s residents include, from left, Olive (Lauren McCrostie), Bronwyn (Pixie Davies), Millard (Cameron King), the twins (Thomas and Joseph Odwell), and Emma. “Weird kids: It’s something that I’ve dealt with and been interested in for a while,” says Burton, who previously directed Alice in Wonderland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, among other films with youthful protagonists. “It’s a weird family.”