Adult Animation Revolution: Stunning Stop-Motion Films of 2022
by Tito W. James
Having four stop-motion films come out in one year is unheard of. Each of these films pushes the technique of stop-motion and explores more macabre genres within animation. We are very lucky to have these films that will doubtlessly stand the test of time.
The House is a darkly comedic animated anthology. The multi-narrative film is brought to life by several stop-motion directors: Emma de Swaef and Marc Roels, Niki Lindroth von Bahr and Paloma Baeza. The story takes place across different eras as we follow a poor family, an anxious developer, and a fed-up landlady as they become tied to the same mysterious house. The film is expertly crafted with each era of the house being divided into three half-hour chapters. We get a gothic horror story, an absurdist dark comedy, and a magical realist tale.
Mad God is a stop-motion horror odyssey, hand-crafted and directed by Phil Tippett (Star Wars, Jurassic Park). The film follows an assassin through a forbidding world of tortured souls, decrepit bunkers, and wretched monstrosities forged from the most primordial horrors of the subconscious mind. Tippett takes viewers through a surreal nightmare with imagery worthy of Mad Max, Metropolis, Eraserhead, and Bloodborn.
Wendell and Wild
Director Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline) and producer Jordan Peele (Nope, Us, Get Out) team up to bring us a phantasmic thrill ride in the new stop-animation feature, Wendell and Wild. The titular characters, a pair of demon brothers played by comedy icons Key and Peele trick troubled teen, Kat Elliott (Lyric Ross) into bringing them from the underworld into the land of the living–and mayhem ensues.
Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio
Directed by Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water) and Mark Gustafson (Fantastic Mr. Fox) this stop-motion film follows the mischievous and disobedient adventures of Pinocchio, who is magically brought to life in order to mend the heart of a grieving woodcarver named Geppetto. Del Toro’s Pinocchio is set against the backdrop of the rise of fascism in 1940s Italy and explores the difference between a puppet that seeks to become human and humans that are manipulated like puppets.
Del Toro’s Pinocchio has elements I’ve truly missed from earlier animated films: scary monsters, dastardly villains, and razor-sharp satire. This, coupled with fantastic performances, meticulously designed characters and environments, make for a courageous story that the world needs to see