Stopmotion Review

Many times we have seen movies where the artist lose their mind due to their art. In movies like Black Swan, Vincent & Theo, & Whiplash we see how far artists will go for their craft and as an audience, we are intrigued by the journey. In Stopmotion we are taking on the bizarre ride of Ella Blake’s deteriorating mind as she tries to make a stop-motion film after her mother’s health goes south. Let’s backtrack a bit.

Ella Blake, played magnificently by Aisling Franciosi, is assisting her mother, Suzanne Blake, by Stella Gonet, in making her latest stop-motion film. Years of sculpting and adjusting the characters have left Suzanne’s hand riddled with arthritis and she has her daughter helping her with the movie. We see how demanding Suzanne is with Ella and how it is straining their relationship. During one of the filming sessions, Suzanne has some sort of attack and ends up in the hospital and Ella vows to complete her film.

Courtesy of Samuel Dole. An IFC Films and Shudder release.

Moving into a new apartment to work on the film, Ella is befriended by a young girl, played by Caoilinn Springall, and this is where the movie starts going off the rails. This young girl feels she knows what movie Ella should be making and Ella puts her mother’s movie to the side and starts making her own movie. The movie involves a creature that is hunting down a young girl. The stop-motion movie is pretty cool to watch and hopefully, it will be an extra on the DVD release.

What is interesting about the movie that Ella is making is that it mirrors what is going on in her life. There is a dark cloud following her and it is slowly making her lose her mind. The movie she is making takes a dark turn when the young girl asks her to make the characters more human-like. Ella starts using items that we will keep secret for now but these items begin to have her boyfriend and friends start questioning her tactics. Ella slowly loses sense of reality and this is where Aisling Franciosi’s performance shines. She masterfully shows the audience how her art is consuming her and the lengths she will go for it.

Courtesy of Samuel Dole. An IFC Films and Shudder release.

Stopmotion is a story that we have seen before but the use of the stop-motion movie within the film helps us look into the mind of the artist. Seeing how Ella goes from her mother’s assistant into an artist on the verge of madness is harrowing to see. Director and writer, Robert Morgan and Robin King give the viewer an incredible story of art taking over the artist and how it affects those around them.

Final Thoughts: Stopmotion is a strange trip into the mind of an artist who is slowly going over the edge. Ella Blake shows the audience how her mother’s pressure consumed her and led her to a path she did not know she was on. The stop-motion segments are fantastic and perfectly help the audience see the deterioration of Ella’s mind. This movie will change the way you look at art and artists.

Kid-Friendly: Stopmotion is not recommended for younger viewers. The story is too dark and shows the pitfalls of letting your art control you. It is pretty graphic with how Ella gets “materials” for her movie and it might be too scary for younger kids.

Violence: There is no violence in the form of fighting but there is body manipulation in the movie. Ella uses a knife on a person in one scene that while it is not clearly shown it is pretty graphic with the imagery.

Ella Blake is a stop-motion animator who is struggling to control her demons after the loss of her overbearing mother. Suddenly alone in the world, she embarks upon the creation of a macabre new puppet film, which soon becomes the battleground for her sanity. As Ella’s mind starts to fracture, the characters in her animated film take on a terrifying life of their own, and the unleashed power of her imagination threatens to destroy her.

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