Fantastic Fest’s famed “Drawn and Quartered” animated short block made a triumphant return after a six-year hiatus, and it was more than worth the wait.
Drawn and Quartered returned to Fantastic Fest after six long years, putting animation back in its own short film block. And what a hell of a block it was! The films here are strange, sinister, sweet, terrifying, and heartwarming. The diversity of visual styles and storytelling is second to none. Drawn and Quartered offers some of the best filmmaking at Fantastic Fest. Each of the ten shorts showcased provided an interesting glimpse into some truly talented and polished filmmakers.
Ghost Dogs (2020 Dir. Joe Cappa)
A newly adopted dog faces the ghosts of pets past in a surreal, nightmare horror.
Ghost Dogs is a fabulously mind-bending horror. It starts out relatively innocent. But once the surreal aspects of the film kick in, it is a shapeshifting, terrifying acid trip. In a word: mesmerizing.
Homo Erectattoos (2020 DIR. Tae-Woo Kim)
A horribly burned and scarred soldier must pull himself out of his pain and depression, despite the horrifying forces that are weighing him down.
The visual style of Homo Erectattos is second to none. However, the film is much deeper than its images. It tells a painful story of recovery and how we must find faith in ourselves to overcome great peril. It’s a beautiful story and a wonderfully realized short film.
Jimi (2020 Dir. Joren Cull)
A wannabe guitarist uses self-harm to find the talent he needs to be the biggest Rockstar in the world.
Jimi is wild. It is unrelenting and feels almost forbidden. The visuals are interesting and the story is simple. But it is one of those short films that will definitely stay with you. It’s a wild ride and you won’t forget it.
A Night in Camp Heebie Jeebie (2020 Dir. Dylan Chase)
A troop of Girl Scouts try to survive a stormy night at Camp Heebie Jeebie. But when their own imaginations come to haunt them, they find that the storm is the least of their worries.
This film feels the most mainstream. That is to say, this film could be released as a Pixar short and it wouldn’t be surprising. However, it is beautifully realized, heartwarming, funny, and absurd. One of the best shorts from this highly entertaining block of films.
Pilar (2020 Dir. Yngwie Boley, J.J. Epping, and Diana Van Houten)
Two people are trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. When their barriers are shattered, one of the survivors learns the importance of freedom.
There are a few films that have such arresting visuals that they demand every bit of your attention. Pilar is one of those films. Thought short, there is a ton of wonderful meaning behind this little movie. The biggest thing, though, is the visual style. Rendered like a moving painting on canvas, Pilar is like nothing you have ever seen before. It is a spectacle that only animation can achieve.
Routine: The Prohibition (2020 Dir. Sam Orti)
Beings in a grungy dystopia find themselves at the mercy of unfeeling, indifferent rulers.
Routine: The Prohibition was probably the most frightening film in the block. It’s a scathing indictment of the intersection of business, religion, and oppression. The story here would not be unfamiliar to disenfranchised Americans. And that’s what makes it so terrifying. This fantastic, strange, and dark little film is a reflection of our times and the lengths we go to believe the terrible forces that continue to manipulate us to their means.
The Shawl (2020 Dir. Sarah Kiener)
A couple recounts their amazing first adventure together at a Stevie Nicks concert.
In a block of very deep and, sometimes, dark films. The Shawl was a moment of light, happiness, and love. The way these two men talk about their relationship and tell their story is infectious. It’s impossible to walk away from this short not having laughed and smiled. The Shawl was, by far, the most heartwarming selection in Drawn and Quartered.
Star Crossed (2019 Dir. Jon Frier)
A message of love from beyond the stars.
That description, while still mysterious, is accurate. This quick, concise short is plain beauty. At two minutes, it is probably the shortest short. But it makes up for its brevity with a lot of character and beautifully realized animation. A truly wonderful little film that happened to pop up in the center of the block.
Thin Blue Variety Show (2020 Dir. Gretta Wilson)
A film about costumes, cops, and the impact that police have on our society.
There probably isn’t a timelier film than the Thin Blue Variety Show. It is a scathing indictment of police and cop culture. It points out the rhetoric taught to police by a system that continues to enable oppression. It pulls back the curtain on how televised police dramas have huge impacts on how cops see their role in society. Most importantly, it reminds us that we are culpable. We’re watching the cop dramas; we’re buying into the images of the police as savior. Thin Blue Variety Show pulls no punches, nor should it.
Tomorrow I Will Be Dirt: Scenes from the Afterlife of Lothar Schramm (2019 Dir. Robert Morgan)
Lothar Schramm awakens to find himself dead. Stranded in a strange and terrible world, he tries to cling to life.
Tomorrow I Will Be Dirt was true madness. The animation happening in the film is almost too visceral. The images are haunting, harkening back to David Lynch’s most terrifying works. That said, Tomorrow I Will Be Dirt is also frighteningly aware of its horror. Even with a short runtime, it offers brief intermission from the mind-bending terror. For its beautiful imagery and frightening story, Tomorrow I Will Be Dirt is definitely the most memorable film in the block.