november 15 2022 : the wolf house (cristobal leon & joaquin cocina)

i haven't written something here in such a long time, oh my god. i've been busy... uh. well. this summer i met my boyfriend and was drawing for nearly two months straight; when school started, i got slammed with school and studying for tests... but thank god, i feel so strongly about this film that the second my boyfriend and i finished watching it i had to write.

the wolf's house was... a genuinely fucking insane film. i don't even feel right just calling it a "movie" -- this was actually a work of art. everything about the stop-motion was put together spectacularly: the dream-like, liminal nature of the continuous panning shots; the way the camera seamlessly flipped between maria (the protagonist's) perspective/the wolf's perspective/a third-person, "objective" perspective; the continuous building and destruction and movement of all the characters in the film; the mix of 2D and 3D in order to show how the house and its inhabitants had melded into one and the same... absolutely fantastic. the film apparently took five years to make, and you can tell. every single shot is well-thought-through. every single frame is designed to be as horrifically creepy as possible. every single set makes you feel sick in the stomach. absolutely unreal. absolutely fantastic.

while it might not follow typical american horror movie format, the movie is distinctly scary in a way i don't think i've ever seen before. there's no jumpscares at all, if you were scared about that; instead, it relies solely on the power of the art, visuals, and audio to make you feel on-edge. it starts off in a classic-documentary format -- and then fades into 2D stopmotion -- and the second you see maria enter the screen, you know that things are only going to get worse. as maria becomes more and more realistic throughout the film's runtime (she moves from being a 2D drawing to a real, 3D papier-mache model to finally being a "classic," realistic stop-motion clay doll), the rest of the movie degrades, becoming increasingly horrific in its depiction of the house, pedro/ana, and the world surrounding maria without the wolf. i literally felt paralyzed the whole time, just leaning forward and staring at my screen. every single visual was awful. i was completely enraptured the entire time. like, i can't stress enough -- the imagery was fantastic. the animation team truly did understand and exploit stop-motion to its fullest potential. god, i can still see the van-gogh-like way the paintstrokes moved in the 2D scenes, the unraveling of bandages, the way the characters' bodies were literally reconstructed every single time they moved from room to room...

and, on a thematic level, there are so many layers and symbols to be dissected throughout. on one hand, the film is about the colonia dignidad, and the abuse that a fictionalized girl went through while she was there. when she escapes, she makes friends with two pigs as she tries to find a way to survive on her own; she projects her fantasies of being a mother and friend onto these pigs, before finally fearing that her loneliness (embodied by the house and the fantasies she has of freedom within it) will consume her whole, fleeing back to the cult that she just escaped from. it's about loneliness and trauma; the cycle of cult abuse. she tries to make pedro and ana dependent on her, unwittingly perpetuating the same behavior that the "wolf" (the colony-cult itself) imposed onto her. she fears that she will be left alone and that she can't survive without the cult that she's been taught to depend on. she becomes the house that she's trapped in -- and lets the wolf inside of her feast on her fears of being both caged and the cage itself.

on a different level -- the film speaks to colonialism and the "white savior" mentality that possesses most white colonists when they enter developing countries, expecting to "save" their inhabitants. maria is the "white mother" -- the madonna to the chilean "pigs," depicted as dirty and inhuman creatures that need to be brought to civilization. the pigs are seen as incompetent, and she literally "whitewashes" them using manufactured products like jarred honey, making their blackened skin and hair pale and blonde, instead. once this happens, the pigs gain sentience of their own, chasing maria out of the house as she cries for help from her colonial father -- the country that she originally came from. she removes their agency and independence, projecting her western ideals onto them because of how much "lesser" she thinks that they are, compared to the powers she has as a white woman hailing from a developed country. she is an arm of the colonial machine, even though she fears how harsh it can be on its subjects -- given that she is still, after all, a woman under a primarily-patriarchal social system. the wolf, at the end, even beckons the "pigs" to join him behind the fences of his colony: a clear allusion to the way colonies attempt to cultivate an intellectual, accepted elite among the native peoples that they encounter, in order to provide a "buffer" between themselves and the "savages" below.

fucking fantastic. absolutely unreal. a masterpiece of a movie. i cannot say it enough: the VISUALS, the VISUALS, the VISUALS. the animation was so unreal. every single moment i was watching it i was genuinely blown out of the water with every new scene transition, every new character model, every movement of the eyes and mouths and hands and bodies. ABSOLUTELY recommend this film if you want a slow, psychological fridge horror. i wasn't disappointed in the slightest, and i already want to watch it again -- just to get a closer look at the incredible stop-motion work and the symbols/imagery that the filmmakers layered the whole movie with.