London International Animation Festival | Late Night Macabre
Late Night Macabre is one of the London International Animation Festival’s anthology of short animated films from across the world. Screening just two nights before Halloween, the films all dealt with the darker dimensions of the human existence: madness, death, despair.
As a whole the anthology was a mixed bag. Several films were only collections of surreal/disturbing imagery cobbled together without much respect to plot, atmosphere or context. At their worst, a few films seemed to be demo reels for hopeful animators wanting to achieve a career in video game cut scenes. But then there were the highlights, the films that worked their way under the skin and delivered a real gut punch appropriate for the season.
'Krep', from Canadian animator Tim Tracey, told a silent, simple fable about a factory worker discovering a most unusual item on his assembly line: a frightened baby. Rather than drill holes in it and make it part of the machinery (as the horrifying automatons that run the place demand) the worker seizes the baby and makes a break for freedom. The only stop-motion animated film of the evening, 'Kreb' featured gruesome puppets assembled from scrap metal, children’s toys and dead animals. It has a claustrophobic, hand-made feel, and rushes by in a very entertaining few minutes.
'A Wolf in the Tree', by Jiaxing Lin, China, dips its feet into a murky river of taboos, refusing to declare definitively what precisely is happening or how we should feel about what we are watching. A wolf lives a lonely, secluded life in a tree, when he is visited by a young girl seemingly with lusty intentions. But can the wolf trust what he sees? A film of shades of grey (literally) with sudden, shocking splashes of scarlet blood, 'A Wolf in the Tree' was the film of the evening most likely to really disturb, less for the violence it shows and more for what it suggests may be going on in its characters' heads.
'The Maggot Feeder' by Estonian artist Priit Tender is based on an ancient folktale of the Chukchi people, of Russia’s far (far!) north east. A seal hunter grows frustrated at his wife’s inability to bear children, so he builds a great stone tower and stuffs it with flesh-hungry maggots, intending to throw his wife into the wriggling horde. Fortunately the wife gets some help from a spider who, by the way, has a very handsome son…
Estonian animation is famous for its bleak sense of humour and absurdist styles, both well demonstrated in this film. The husband resembles a walking toaster with a human face and rakes for hands, and he is almost comically proficient at stabbing seals in the face (animal lovers might want to steer clear of this one). Cleverly animated, with a very unique feel, this was the stand-out film of the night: gory, strange and even incomprehensible at times, it’s the perfect film to describe to your incredulous friends over drinks on a cold Halloween night.
Late Night Macabre
London International Animation Festival