Robert Morgan’s newest gore film has its moments, but it falls short in its execution of a somewhat complex vision. After a promising beginning, Stopmotion gets lost in the multitude of various themes we already know by heart from other horrors.
Stopmotion, with its tranquil pace, is deliberately intended to create a climate of stifling atmosphere. It’s a promising premise, as the feeling of being trapped in an apartment is something most of us can relate to. However, for the main heroine, it slowly evolves into an uncanny cage. The plot follows the mundane life of Ella Blake (Aisling Franciosi), an aspiring animator dreaming about her own debut. Her mother is a famous director too, so she has always lived in her shadow. And not to mention that she was also affected by her tyrannical upbringing… As we will see, all those experiences left an indelible mark on her sanity.
When her mother becomes seriously ill, Ella decides to finish her last project, although her vision is still unclear at this point. She’s strongly determined, but her life starts falling apart. Because of her traumas, Ella becomes unable to differentiate reality from her work’s fiction. Besides, meeting a young girl (Caoilinn Springgall), who comes up with a really dreadful idea for the script, appears as another portent Ella unfortunately ignores.
While Ella is working on her project, the film gives us a chance to watch ominous sequences from her stop-motion animation. It’s a meta experience and ingenious idea, as the plot starts corresponding with the protagonist’s life. That’s what keeps us interested, even if Stopmotion takes an abstract turn in its second half. The most problematic issue is the way the script delivers the progression of Ella’s mental illness. It’s a plot device, so for the audience, it quickly looks like an emotional blackmail. After all, the film uses Ella’s traumas as a pretext for the display of consequently more eerie sequences.
It is apparent that Morgan knows his horror craft, which draws its inspiration from butchery aesthetics and spiritual motives, as the sheer tension and terror was tangible during the screening. Yet, at times, Stopmotion seemed like an incomplete project with a hazy symbolism in careless depiction of the heroine’s mental illness.
Ultimately, Stopmotion can be read as a clever film confession about writer’s block. It may leave a bittersweet taste in viewers’ mouths, but it also proposes a compelling and unforgettable experience.
Stopmotion does not have a UK release date yet.
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