Stopmotion (2024) Movie Review – More nightmarish than Wallace and Gromit’s cheese-fuelled dreams

Even more nightmarish than Wallace and Gromit’s cheese-fuelled dreams

Imagine living in a house with Wallace and Gromit for an extended period. Sure, they might make you laugh with their crazy antics but after listening to Wallace repeatedly ask Gromit whether he’d like more cheese or not, you might start to tire of them as houseguests. The fact that your cheese supply might also be dwindling during their stay might also drive you to distraction. 

Of course, it’s unlikely that many of us would share our homes with stop-motion plasticine figures. But in director Robert Morgan’s new film, Stopmotion, a young woman named Ella lives in an apartment with the figurines she has created. She’s driven to the brink of insanity by her miniature dolls, more so when they start to develop a life of their own while she is working on them.

Stopmotion is a very strange film that is difficult to understand. It opens with the scene of a black egg that threatens to crack and then takes us into the life of Ella, a stopmotion animator who also begins to crack because of her domineering mother and the traumatic memories of her past that slowly start to resurface.

These memories become the basis of the film project that Ella works on. She creates two characters – a little girl and a monstrous figure known as the Ash Man. The girl figurine is likely representative of the younger Ella, who also appears as an imagined human girl who enters Ella’s apartment and gives her the story for her film. 

As to who the Ash Man is, we don’t really know. But there’s a chance he’s somebody who abused Ella when she was younger. The Ash Man also appears in the real world when he comes to life as a much larger figure outside of Ella’s apartment, banging on her door and causing her mental state to break even further.

Stopmotion hints at problems within Ella’s past but the events within her earlier life are told to us in abstract form. It’s clear they’re responsible for her fractured mind, but for the most part, it’s up to us to decipher what may have happened to Ella when she was younger. 

The story is sometimes hard to follow but it’s anchored by a terrific performance from Aisling Franciosia as Ella, who delicately portrays a character who initially appears to have it together but who slowly starts to fall apart as the movie goes on.

There are other actors in the film, including Stella Gonet as Ella’s scolding mother and Tom York as our protagonist’s worried boyfriend. But with the exception of Franciosa and Caoilinn Springall as the little girl, they largely take a backseat to the other stars of this dark tale –  the stopmotion characters that the effects team bring to life. 

These miniature models are frightening to behold, even the girl character, who looks more like a pitiful monster than a smaller version of a human child. The sequences involving these creations have been cleverly put together, so much so that it’s sometimes disappointing when we return to the real world and its live-action actors. 

Gorehounds won’t be disappointed by the real-world setting, however. It’s sometimes just as macabre as the animated world, with scenes of Ella creating models with raw meat, and one particular gross-out moment when she opens up a wound on her leg in extremely graphic detail. Chicken Run 2 was occasionally traumatizing with its hints of suggested poultry death but it’s nothing compared to this film that contains many sequences likely to trouble your dreams. 

Stopmotion is more a film to be endured than enjoyed, with its scenes of human mutilation and nightmarish hallucinatory sequences. But this isn’t to say it is a chore to sit through, as the creepy animated scenes and fascinating puzzle-like story do much to grip the attention, even though what we watch is sometimes bewildering to behold.

The film is a dark and troubling one, with themes of childhood trauma and parental oppression. It’s certainly not for everyone but if you ever wondered what Gromit might look like if he was made from bits of an animal carcass, this psychological horror tale is definitely the film for you. 


Read More: Stopmotion – Ending Explained

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  • Verdict - 6.5/10

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