THE SPINE OF NIGHT (2021)

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The Spine of the Night

THE SPINE OF NIGHT (2021)
Written and Directed by Philip Gelatt and Morgan Galen King
Available on digital, DVD and Blu-Ray

When a powerful, magical blue bloom falls into the hands of a power-hungry scholar, individuals throughout time must fight to protect the land and existence of mankind before it’s destroyed forever.

Fantasy animation feature THE SPINE OF NIGHT is a mesmerising, epic tale of a fight against tyrannical power that threatens the very planet. The story follows various humans throughout history who stand up to fight against it, despite all odds, in a bid to stop the perpetrator from enslaving humanity and destroying life as they know it. It may sound a grand idea to tackle, but the film manages to beautifully execute a non-stop, action-packed dreamscape of sci-fi fantasy in just over 90 minutes that succinctly tells its story and does so with such style!

THE SPINE OF NIGHT was seven years in the making, with a small team of animators utilising the art of rotoscope in order to animate the movie. This involves tracing the outline of the actors in the video, frame by frame, for more fluid animation. In the special features section of the Blu-Ray, you see exactly how the film’s performances were mapped out and it’s a joy to behold! Using basic props, costumes and a whole load of imagination, the performers acted out the scenes we see on-screen, whilst stars such as Richard E. Grant, Lucy Lawless, Patton Oswalt and Joe Manganiello lent their voices to help bring the characters to life. Watching the actors bounce on gym balls, simulating riding a horse, and battling each other with cardboard swords and tubes, reminds me of simpler times of primary school drama classes or even re-enacting scenes as a child. I can’t imagine the amount of fun these guys and gals must’ve had building the scenes of the movie, ready for the animators, but it just shows how much passion and creativity went into developing the scenes before the laborious and painstaking work of animation began. The entire process of the movie is no mean feat, especially considering it’s an indie team behind it too.

Everything about the movie captures the imagination with such attention to detail given. The painted background environments of the scenes are absolutely stunning whilst the rotoscoped design of the characters stand out with their block colour visage. You can see a lot of inspiration has been taken from various fantasy elements from the past, however the filmmakers have put their own unique stamp to create something fresh and exhilarating whilst retaining a retro aesthetic.

With its powerful messaging, the emotion spills off the screen, along with plenty of internal organs, entrails and blood, with the movie going all-out in its battle quest. The story is heartfelt when it needs to be, but doesn’t shy away from the grisly brutality of fighting for survival as the forces for good and bad clash. Scenes of destruction are consistently evident, not just of people but of mother nature too as swamps are razed and the beauty of the planet is brought to its knees leaving little but smouldering embers. As the treacherous antagonist tightens his grip on civilisation, the action and bloodshed intensifies until its ethereal conclusion.

THE SPINE OF NIGHT is a wondrous, unflinching fantasy that serves as a warning as much as it entertains, with a timeless tale that will thrill audiences.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★½☆

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About Bat 4345 Articles
I love practical effects, stop-motion animation and gore, but most of all I love a good story! I adore B-movies and exploitation films in many of their guises and also have a soft spot for creature features. I review a wide range of media including movies, TV series, books and videogames. I'm a massive fan of author Hunter S. Thompson and I enjoy various genre of videogames with Kingdom Hearts and Harvest Moon two of my all time favs. Currently playing: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Yakuza Zero and Mafia III.

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