FILM: THE WOLF HOUSE

La Casa Lobo (original title) / 2018 / animation, horror, drama / 1h 15min / directed by Joaquín Cociña & Cristóbal León / written by Joaquín Cociña & Cristóbal León & Alejandra Moffat / country: Chile | Germany / language: Spanish | German

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“Fusing Grimm, the early shorts of David Lynch and the stop-motion work of Jan Svankmajer into a visually engrossing, reference-rich and disturbing tale about the mental delirium of a young girl, the deeply uncanny pic makes for an unsettling viewing experience, a creative tour de force whose endlessly fascinating visuals are deliberately seductive and repellent in equal measure… Following the commands of the directors’ — and [protagonist] Maria’s — fantasizing, toys, paintings and objects become powerful (if not always clear) symbols, drawing on folk tales, religion and politics. In one example of the movie’s attention to visual detail, a swastika fleetingly becomes a window frame. Repeat viewings would be necessary to pick up everything that’s going on, and the viewer quickly gives up on trying to figure out the meaning of it all, succumbing to the sheer visual abundance. If this all sounds creepy, then it is, but even more than that, it is uncanny, breaking down the barriers between the familiar and the unfamiliar to disturbing effect. This applies to the soundwork also, with Amalia Kassai’s German-inflected Spanish recorded so close up as almost to be ASMR, but with few of ASMR’s pleasurable connotations.”
Jonathan Holland, The Hollywood Reporter

“Centuries of children have dreamed of ominous woods, threatening wolves and other fearsome fictional creations, but only Cristóbal León and Joaquín Cociña could have conjured up The Wolf House (La casa lobo). With their feature debut, the artists turned filmmakers draw upon folklore and fairy tales to craft their own visually inventive addition to the fold. And they truly did craft it — fashioning their stop-motion animated effort out of paint, paper, tape and furniture, and staging its scenes across various Chilean, Argentinian, Mexican, Dutch and German galleries while inviting the public to participate… As fascinating as the film’s production process proves, it’s the results of their creative labours that entrance and enchant. Loving Vincent might have given the world it’s first fully painted movie, but The Wolf House gifts animation that strides the line between beautiful and grotesque, that builds and crumples as the camera rolls. Indeed, with its frame constantly roving, everything on-screen continually moving and morphing, and its bulk presented as an unbroken shot, the feature leads viewers into an alluringly sinister new realm just like its namesake has in legends and literature.”
Sarah Ward, Screen Daily

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