Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Blackwater Gospel (2011)

Although this is a pretty obvious short on the evils of religion, the animation here is breathtaking, the visuals frightening, and the script, for the most part, is pretty damn good too.

   The angel of death, 'the undertaker,' is picking off the frightened residents of a small town, while the town's evil priest leads them on a witch hunt, leading to one man- the faithless, guitar-plucking hobo, who refuses to comply with the priest's reign of terror.

   The corpse-like characters are truly grotesque and frightening, scarier than anything Burton could come up with. The bloody conclusion isn't stylized or humorous either- it's unflinching brutality is unnerving. There's also some pitch-black humor concerning religious hypocrisy, but it does little to relieve the unrelenting tone.

    The short also raises questions about its otherworldly time and place. Are these poor, pathetic souls in purgatory, dead already and doomed to be haunted by the specter of death? Does the film take place after a 'rapture-like' end of days, where 'The Undertaker,' ever vigilant, is picking off the last of them? We don't know. But the power of fear is keeping them thinking like frightened sheep, and behaving as a herd.

   Filmmaker Bo Mathorne definitely knows how to animate in a compelling, non-derivative way, and his mastery of the art is impressive. The editing and sound mixing are also superior, bringing plausibility to the creepy, inhuman Undertaker. Whether you're a believer or a die-hard, hardcore atheist, you should consider giving this short a try. Just remember, it's a grim, bloody ride.

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