Where the Dead Go to Die (2012)

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Director: Jimmy ScreamerClauz

Stars: Ruby Larocca, Brandon Slagle, Joey Smack

This ain’t Pixar folks

This review is going to be subjective because I’m not like most people who get scared by horror films like The Exorcist or The Shining. I get scared by strange things. Things that bury themselves into your psyche and fester for a long time. That’s why I’m such a fan of David Lynch’s surreal films and why (what most people would describe as) an unwatchable mess like Inland Empire is a frightening masterpiece to me. Similarly, some people find videos of glitches from The Sims hilarious, whereas I find them chilling with those strange and nightmarish impossible contortions. Where the Dead Go to Die is like one big Sims glitch.


Many will see it as an atrociously animated and badly voice acted mess, and they wouldn’t be wrong. This has to be the worst animation ever committed to film. In fact, it looks as though it was made on The Sims with a few disturbing expansion packs which allow your sims to woohoo with animals and travel to a kaleidoscopic hell. This will make the film borderline unwatchable for some people, but for me it made it all the more horrifying. Likewise, a little boy being voiced by a man mimicking a screechy child’s voice is much more frightening to me than being voiced by an actual child. It’s extremely uncomfortable as it feels like we’re watching something Satanic that shouldn’t be watched.

Where the Dead Go to Die has to be one of the most disturbing films I have ever seen and I don’t get too disturbed easily either. This film is up there with Salo, Martyrs and all he rest. If it was a live action production then I’m pretty sure that the anonymous director, who goes by Jimmy ScreamerClauz, would be arrested. Whilst the animation is beyond poor, the ideas are still there and these ideas are seriously messed up. I don’t want to spoil it for people who want to experience this mind fudge, but there are some depraved ideas involving children which are explored explicitly in this film. They may only look like blobs, but that didn’t make it any less upsetting to watch, for me at least. Especially combined with the horrifying musical score in the background.


I feel like I should delve into the story a little bit. Where the Dead Go to Die is an anthology film which follows three characters living in the same neighbourhood (I think) who all come in contact with a demonic dog. The first segment tells the story of a boy who is convinced by the dog to kill his mother’s unborn child as it’s the antichrist. This story certainly gives you a taste of things to come. It’s just utter madness with some terribly disturbing ideas and images thrown in. The second story kind of lost me a bit, but it concerns a man who steals people’s memories after killing them. It’s the weakest story and is mainly an excuse to go overboard on the hellish, surreal imagery. The last story is the strongest and most disturbing. It concerns a neglected boy with his dead Siamese twin’s head stuck to the side of his face, who falls in love with a little girl. Needless to say, she harbours some very dark secrets at home.

You can try and think about the absolute sickest thing in the world and this film will show you worse. I can’t decide whether I liked it or not. You could argue that it’s a film designed to shock you for the sake of it, but there is actually a story here (several actually) and I’d argue that this Jimmy ScreamerClauz bloke actually manages to respectively weave the story with the moments of depravity. This isn’t like August Underground where it’s just one sick pointless scene trying to outdo the other. The disturbing themes do actually have something to do with the surreal story, particularly in the last segment. There’s a moment where I was almost moved to tears, just due to the intensity of the concept presented on screen. The relentless bleakness also started to get to me after a while.


Where the Dead Go to Die is not a good film on a technical level, but it’s unlike anything I have ever seen. There’s no denying that it’s innovative, whether that’s in a good way or not. It does get bogged down in its moments of relentless surreal glitchy imagery, but when it focuses, I found myself strangely captivated. On one hand I find the film trashy and stupid but on the other I find it startling and original. It’s an endlessly dark, depraved and upsetting film. It disturbed me, horrified me and affected me both emotionally and physically. It’s a film which I won’t ever forget, and that has to be worth something doesn’t it?

four-out-of-ten

 

Inside Out (2015)

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inside out

Director: Pete Docter, Ronaldo Del Carmen

Stars: Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Kyle MacLachlan

Thoughtful animated classic

Pixar might’ve gone through a rare dip in quality when they went onto making stuff that was aimed specifically at children like Cars 2 and Brave. They started clawing their way back up to greatness when Monsters University launched last year, a film which I still think is somewhat underrated with its gorgeous creative visuals and fantastic characters. Inside Out sees Pixar pick up their crown again and reign supreme as the queen of animated films.

It’s an instant classic which ranks up the very best Pixar has to offer. I’d argue that it’s the best film they’ve done since Toy Story 3 and the best of the year so far, outdoing the likes of Mad Max 4 and Whiplash. But that’s no surprise considering that Pete Docter is behind the camera and paper again. It’s a complex and ingenious premise which personifies emotions we all carry in our heads. Each emotion in Riley’s head manages to be funny, likeable and relevant to the story. I particularly liked Sadness and Anger. I’m not quite sure what that says about me.

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It’s Joy at the controls though and she’s one of those annoyingly positive people who manages to see the good in absolutely everything. If someone shot her in the head, she’d probably congratulate them on the excellent pot-shot. Entertainingly for us though, she goes off on an extreme character-building lesson which sees her lost in the abyss of Riley’s long-term memory along with her least favourite emotion, Sadness. Sadness is an adorable blue blob who is clumsy and well-meaning but permanently depressed. Whilst Joy and Sadness are away, leaving Anger, Disgust and Fear at the controls, eleven year-old Riley goes through a massive breakdown.

The film does a fantastic job of setting up a potentially confusing premise in a fun and simplistic way. The first act is basically all exposition which sets everything up and suitably engages the audience. It reminded me of the scene in Inception where Leo explains the dream world concept to Ellen Page. I know exposition can irritate a lot of people, but in high concept films like this I think it’s pretty essential, otherwise we’d be sat their open-mouthed and dead behind the eyes like watching Upstream Colour.

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The editing is absolutely wonderful as it manages to balance three stories which are all connected to one another in a masterful way. The main story concerns Joy and Sadness on their exceptionally entertaining Finding Nemo-style adventures, the other two secondary stories (although still no less critical to the plot) involve the other emotions in the control tower and Riley suffering a mental breakdown out in the real world.

The entire film not only works as a fantastic story on its own, but also as an analogy for mental breakdowns in general. Now whenever I feel unhappy randomly I’ll know that it’s because Joy has left my control room, or that Sadness has accidently touched a memory. It’s also a brilliant way of letting kids know that it’s OK to be sad and it’s perfectly normal to feel angry. There are a whole load of deeper meanings and gags that are likely to go over the heads of children, but everyone else will be sure to appreciate them. Kids will definitely be able to appreciate the highly creative visuals and lovable characters.

All Pixar films are eye-popping, but Inside Out is particularly incredible. There’s no end of bright, creative and trippy visuals which very much reminded me of my favourite Pixar film, Up. It all has substance too though and is relevant to the plot. There’s a wonderful sequence where the characters enter Dream Productions and we see how our dreams are really made. Not only is it side-splittingly hilarious, it’s clever, high-concept and beautiful to look at.

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There are also quite a few genuinely emotional moments. I’m not one to get teary in films, but there’s one scene involving a gorgeous character called Bing Bong which really made me well up. It isn’t your average light and fluffy, happy-clappy kiddy film. It goes to deeper and darker places and pulls at your heart strings. Watching a little girl go through a spat of depression is not cheery viewing! There is of course an inevitable happy ending and it’s all the more heart-warming because of the darker scenes that preceded it.

In short, Inside Out is an animated masterpiece. I cannot for the life of me think of any faults, apart from that it went by far too quickly. It has everything you need in a film. It’s funny, emotional, creative, original, intelligent, deep and thoughtful. It’s full of memorable and likable characters whom you’ll go away remembering. It’s a film for any age so if you’re one of these “Ooh animation’s for kids innit” type people I’d urge you to drop any plans you have for the weekend and go and see this with all your adult/teenage friends.

Pixar is incredibly popular and so you’ll be bound to find people on the internet bashing it like they do Christopher Nolan films and anything else that is popular so don’t listen to them. It’s a towering achievement and a return to form. It’s their first original non-sequel since Brave in 2012 and it’s well worth the wait. They’ve expressed disinterest in a sequel to Inside Out, but I’d love to see all these fantastic characters return.

perfect-10