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THE WOLF HOUSE (2018)
Directed by Joaquín Cociña, Cristóbal León
Written by Joaquín Cociña, Cristóbal León, Alejandra Moffat
Starring Amalia Kassai, Rainer Krause
THE WOLF HOUSE is a stop motion, Claymation, animated feature film that tells an allegory based on the true story of a Chilean colony that was taken over by a former Nazi and the atrocities that the children of the colony suffered. In the story, Maria (voiced by Alalia Kassai) a young German girl escapes the colony with two “pigs” and raises them to be her own in a house in the middle of the woods. Through some tender loving care by Maria, the “pigs” turn into humans and the three live peacefully together with the wolf (voiced by Rainer Krause) threatening them from outside of the house. But as the “pigs” grow, they begin to see Maria for who she really is, leading to a nightmarish and bleak finale.
THE WOLF HOUSE is an extremely arthousey arthouse film. Those who prefer their horrors to be literal shouldn’t bother with it. But if you don’t mind sifting through the minutiae, you’ll find a horrifically resonant story mixing world history with the blackest of nightmares. The story is told broadly and honestly, the only reason I was able to make sense of it was that I did some research on the film after watching it. Still, the story is absolutely messed up and one that will make you lose a little faith in humanity if you choose to do a little researching.
Even if you don’t want to do the homework, I recommend THE WOLF HOUSE simply because it artistically blew my mind. The scene never stops morphing and evolving into new permutations. Not only are there grotesque and beautiful images to witness, but you get to see these images, sculptures, and blends of both constructed and deconstructed right there in front of you. You see the tape being used to create the form of the characters. You see each paint stroke cover the surface of these forms as they change from one shape to another. Even if the story loses you, if you appreciate art and how it is made, this film is an absolutely fascinating watch.
Filled with images out of the most surreal and decrepit nightmares and paired with historical heft and tragedy, THE WOLF HOUSE is going to be too heavy for some, too artsy for others. If you don’t mind a little depth and artistry your viewing pleasure and films that stretch the borders of what you’re used to calling horror, THE WOLF HOUSE is going to be a real treat for some of you. Reminiscent of the transfixing and terrifying stop motion films of Jan Svankmajer, THE WOLF HOUSE not only doles out unsettling images in droves, but it shows how those monsters are constructed from the ground up. It’s a technical masterpiece for those who love to see how art is made.