A Town Called Panic Review

4/5

A charming piece of stop animation that throws logic out the window, A Town Called Panic offers an innocent look into the fictional realities that are akin to our childhood fantasies we construct with toys.

Created by Belgian animators Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar, it is the feature film of their cult series of the same name.  Perhaps surprisingly, they are no strangers to UK television, being the minds behind the ludicrous Cravendale milk adverts that feature a cow, a pirate and a cyclist.

This latest piece was part of the official selection at Cannes last year and has already received notable commendations from esteemed publications.

The plot centres on a disorganised household containing a horse, a cowboy and an Indian. Following the theft of the horse’s house by some mysterious strangers, the trio embark on a voyage to retrieve the stolen walls encountering the centre of the earth, a frozen plateau and an underwater village along the way.

The forte of the piece lies in its simplicity with its rugged, unpolished use of stop-motion.

The characters, merely unpretentious figurines, some of which still with their bases attached, adds an original character which goes beyond the meticulousness of more common stop-motion such as that used by the infamous Aardman productions. This combined with a complete lack of scale – as life-sized mugs appear ridiculous measured next to the miniature models -gives unexpected insight into this bizarre world where nothing makes sense, but at the same time doesn’t need to. Such disregard for continuity hasn’t been seen in animation since the likes of Terry Gilliam.

Although perhaps too intense for some with its very ‘in your face’ approach to comedy, the brilliance of this film is its absurdity. By bringing new meaning to the word surreality, this is childlike humour that is not restricted to a younger audience, the older viewer connecting with its ingenuousness.

Some would also argue that the film drags on slightly, which is strange considering its short runtime, but this is only due to the incredibly erratic nature of the animation. Its fast paced, action packed style means that the moments when you are not being punched in the face with incongruous action, the pace of the film slows somewhat.

Despite this, the ingenuity of the film makes it one of the more original films of the year that manages to prove that there is still high quality animation beyond Disney Pixar.

Taken from The Student, published Tue Oct 19th 2010.

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