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Categories: Movie Reviews

Francesca Amoroso saw the wildly inventive dystopian short Junkhead at Raindance Film Fest and found lots to like but did the treasure outweigh the trash?

This impressively made and highly inventive stop-motion animation is a wonderfully detailed dystopian nightmare, and while it lacks narrative direction and clarity, it makes up for it in sheer magnitude of man-hours.

Director Takahide Hori dedicated four years to creating this feature and his efforts do not go unrecognised, the barren yet magnificent landscapes populated by equally varied and detailed characters are simply, remarkable.

The film depicts a future in which the human race has made unfathomable strides in extending the average lifespan but has lost its ability to procreate in the process. A race of clones was created in order to supplement a dwindling workforce, who over time mutated and evolved into horrific abstracts of their original creators. The clones eventually rebelled and now reside in seclusion amongst the underground levels of the towering structures in which the humans live. In order to save the human species, a man is sent to the lower levels in order to retrieve genetic material to help kick-start the human life cycle once more.

We follow the mad and wild journey of this sole voyager as he is confused and bewildered by the horrors of the mutated clone world below his own. As he undergoes a series of deaths and resurrections in various metal or animatronic bodies, we meet a cast of humorous and downright horrific characters/monsters. Despite its resolutely original sets and laboriously crafted animation, the film is at times lost for direction. It never truly finds its footing, it tip-toes around being a meandering epic of random encounters, our hero dipping into the multi-faceted world of the clones and quickly learning how they and he must survive within the hellscape of abandoned junk. Which would’ve been enjoyable enough, if not for the hasty and retroactive implication of a larger meaning, which near the end of the film is suddenly forced onto a narrative that is too disjointed to need one.

Its indecisiveness over what the driving force of this movie is, either being an on-the-road epic or a somewhat impassioned social and political critique of Japanese society is its largest downfall. Nothing is resolved, narrative threads abandoned, exposition thrown in and then disregarded, it is dizzying and confusing at times and we are left feeling a little dejected due to the utter inconsistency of the movie.

In spite of this, I would consider the movie a success. Hori’s feature was undeniably a labour of love, filled with a Lynchian imperative towards disgusting, nauseating, slightly fearful and yet ultimately beautiful imagery. It gives the film a depth and is an enjoyable deviation from most animation artistry. Hori’s attention to detail permeates every layer of the film; there are even a variety of languages for the diverse creatures, which differs between harsh, robotic sounds to a disjointed form of Japanese. Every element of the world Hori has created has been given its due attention, highlighting the pure dedication and bewildering creativity behind this intriguing debut.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYiw-jqywc8

Francesca Amoroso

Francesca is currently a Camera Assistant, working and living in London. She is an MA Film Studies graduate from UCL and writes about film in her spare time.

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Posted on Oct 7, 2017

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