Combustible Celluloid
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With: Amalia Kassai, Rainer Krause (voices)
Written by: Joaquín Cociña, Cristóbal León, Alejandra Moffat
Directed by: Joaquín Cociña, Cristóbal León
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: Spanish, German, with English subtitles
Running Time: 73
Date: 05/15/2020

The Wolf House (2020)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Piggy Dank

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This stop-motion animated film from Chile manages to upend words like "seamless." The Wolf House is that, in a way, because it's always moving and flowing, or perhaps more like churning. It seems to take place entirely within one room, where figures appear on walls, and then move into the room, while the camera tracks uneasily all around. It also bores through walls, and makes other startling transitions from scene to scene. There's nothing so simple as a clean cut.

However, it also lets all its seams show, in that we see little crafted hands moving through the scene and attaching themselves to crafted figures. We see paint dribbling, and colors being painted over. We see masking tape, and clear tape to hold things in place between poses. The effect is captivating, but The Wolf House is also a living nightmare, a true parade of unsettling horrors, things that may live on in the dark of night.

The story involves a girl named Maria, who escapes from a cult-like German colony in an isolated area of Chile (based on a real thing). She finds a house, occupied by two pigs, and moves inside. The pigs become her friends, and they slowly transform into humans as other strange and horrifying things happen. Meanwhile, a wolf lurks outside and frequently taunts and threatens Maria. It's meant to look and feel like a dark fairy tale, but of course, it can also be read as a political allegory, or just a surreal journey.

If the movie has a flaw it's that the language flips back and forth between German and Spanish, and subtitles are required for many viewers, but trying to read and follow the story while gazing transfixed at the images is rather distracting, and it's easy to lose the thread of the "story." But if you're willing to let some things go and float along with this amazing film, you may agree that it could be the animated film of 2020. Watch it here and support one of my favorite local theaters, the Roxie.{subid}&url=hitlist.asp?searchfield=marvel
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