The Polar Express: Holly Jolly or Horrifying?

Winning numerous awards and remaining relevant for more than a decade, the Polar Express is well-known by kids and adults alike, but questionable details make the film’s backstory suspicious and even creepy.

“The Polar Express” is a well-known holiday movie that has circulated throughout the nation for 16 years. Not only is it still relevant and popular among kids and adults, but it has also won numerous awards and managed to place fourth in the highest-grossing Christmas films of all time. 

Funnily enough, though, when I began my research on why this film is so popular, many results weren’t that “The Polar Express” was a popular film, but that it was actually a scary film.

“Honestly, the movie felt like a fever dream. I think we only watched it because schools forced us to and for the hot chocolate. I thought that the concept was pretty cool, especially with the bells, but the movie felt like a fever dream,” freshman Christiana Zhou said. “When we used to watch this movie in class, I definitely thought it was creepy.”

Although “The Polar Express” was the first all-motion capture film ever made, it seems that the animators’ efforts weren’t appreciated by all the audience members. That’s right, apparently critics thought the animations were “zombie-like”. Others joked about the true purpose of the train: to kidnap children from their homes using Santa Claus as an excuse to cover up the crime. Many memes online have highlighted how scary the CGI eyes of “The Polar Express” are. To top it off, the film’s choice to leave the main character nameless, while meant to make the film stay true to the storybook it’s based on, only creeped people out even more.

“The Polar Express” movie has left adults and children alike to wonder whether this movie is truly a jolly Christmas classic or an unintended horror film with vague backstories and lifeless eyes. With even memes to joke about creepy CGI animation, this movie has left its mark on history.

Despite the popularity “Polar Express” has received in the past decade, the movie raises controversies, especially for the techniques used to animate it. Adults and children alike can agree on the horror of lifeless eyes that result from CGI animation, but the film still remains a holiday classic for families to watch every year.