Connect with us
Wendell & Wild
Image Courtesy of TIFF

Film

Henry Selick’s Wendell & Wild is a Gorgeous and Macabre Animated Film

Stop-motion auteur Henry Selick returns to film with Wendell & Wild and another wonderful showcase of creative animation.

TIFF 2022: Wendell & Wild Review

Henry Selick’s absence from film has been a loss for stop-motion animation. The director behind beloved animated classics like The Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach, and Coraline has always injected his films with creativity and characters that represent the fringes of society. Those accepted within like-minded communities but find themselves often ostracized from society as a whole for being different. There’s no straying from the path in his latest film either as Selick’s Wendell & Wild brings together a devious level of lore and dizzying stop-motion with a cast of characters looking for a way out of their pain.

Co-written by Selick and Jordan Peele, Wendell & Wild is a story about an orphan whose parents’ death leaves her broken and directionless. Kat (voiced by Lyric Ross) mourns the tragic loss of her parents and now has an inability to truly connect with anyone else. She gets kicked out of school frequently and always finds herself in trouble. Brought back to her hometown of Rust Bank where her parents died, she’s now forced to go to a boarding school within a town completely demolished and preparing to install a private prison.

Wendell & Wild
Image Courtesy of TIFF

Supernatural forces begin taking hold of Kat though, and she soon is accompanied by Wendell and Wild (voiced by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele) – personal demons who have dreamt of returning to the Land of the Living in order to open up their own amusement park. However, their quest for money soon finds them resurrecting the dead in order to accomplish their own goals and forcing Kat to re-confront the death of her parents.

For horror and Selick fans alike, Wendell & Wild delivers an astounding collection of the macabre in both its character designs and storytelling. It’s a lore-heavy film that is always brimming with creativity as it brings together the dead and the living in fascinating ways. Every character is just as meticulously hand-crafted as expected from Selick’s previous work and the stop-motion animation really gives the entirety of the film a DIY vibe that meshes perfectly with Kat’s punk rock rebellious attitude. She’s a tremendous force and everything in the world around her is just as impressive as her strength in the face of a completely broken world.

Wendell & Wild
Image Courtesy of TIFF

Where Wendell & Wild struggles most is in its plotting. A narrative that spins out of control of its characters, Selick and Peele’s screenplay also feels like it doesn’t quite know where it’s going next. Constantly it fades to black only to come to a new scene that is jarring in its placement. Nothing flows well. Instead, it bobs and weaves around the main narrative of a town being overtaken by capitalist greed, frequently delving into its side plots without really providing even those with much importance. Everything feels cohesive aesthetically, but narratively it doesn’t all come together as neatly as it suggests. Even the ending is a relatively muted conclusion that contains some of the film’s busiest animation but also leaves little of an impression.

There’s an undeniable allure to Wendell & Wild though that isn’t new to Selick’s work. He has always maintained a representation of the weird and the macabre. A filmmaker that imbues his work with the same passion for being yourself as the audience he cultivates and champions his films, Selick continues to be one of the most endearing forces in animation. Even though Wendell & Wild really does just retread a lot of familiar themes in his filmography, it’s still a solid return to film in a way that is refreshing. While Laika Studios has carried the torch for stop-motion for a while, it’s seeing movies like Wendell & Wild and Phil Tippett’s Mad God that remind of the variety of auteurs who use stop-motion as a canvas to explore the darker and interesting corners of the mind.

The 47th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival takes place from September 8–18Find all our coverage here.

Written By

Chris is a graduate of Communications from Simon Fraser University and resides in Victoria, British Columbia. Given a pint, he will talk for days about action films, video games, and the works of John Carpenter.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Facebook

Trending

Review Bombing Review Bombing

The Rings of Power and Review Bombing: The Online A-Bomb

Culture

HBO MAX/DISCOVERY HBO MAX/DISCOVERY

WTH is Going on with HBO Max/Discovery?

Culture

BEST AEW PPV Matches 2022 BEST AEW PPV Matches 2022

Best AEW PPV Matches of 2022 (So Far)

Wrestling

Project Wolf Hunting Project Wolf Hunting

Project Wolf Hunting is a Bloody and Entertaining Midnight Delight

Film

While We Watched While We Watched

While We Watched Reveals the Destabilization of Democracy in India

Film

Cheers Pilot Review - Give Me A Ring Sometime Cheers Pilot Review - Give Me A Ring Sometime

Cheers: ‘Give Me A Ring Sometime’ is the Definitive Sitcom Pilot

TV

L.A. Confidential Directed by Curtis Hanson L.A. Confidential Directed by Curtis Hanson

25 Years Later: L.A. Confidential is Hollywood’s last great noir

Friday Film Noir

Marvel D3 2022 Marvel D3 2022

A Breakdown Of Every Marvel Studios Announcement At D23

Culture

Eastern Promises (2007) Eastern Promises (2007)

Eastern Promises at 15: Cronenberg’s Gangster Triumph 

Film

Roger Maris breaks home run record Roger Maris breaks home run record

On This Day in Sports:  Roger Maris Broke the Home Run Record, with 61 in ’61, 61 years ago 

Culture

Corsage movie review Corsage movie review

Corsage is a Lush Portrait of Empress Elizabeth of Austria

Culture

Anvil! The Story of Anvil Anvil! The Story of Anvil

Anvil! The Story of Anvil — The Inspiring Story of the Canadian 80s Metal Band

Film

Orcs! Orcs!

The Rings of Power: “Udûn” Finally Raises Hell

Culture

The Lost King review The Lost King review

The Lost King is an Unlively Attempt at Revisionism

Culture

Emily movie review Emily movie review

Emily is a Rapturous Evocation of Brontë’s Artistic Discoveries

Film

Muru Muru

Muru Surfaces a Century of Discrimination

Film

Connect