Saturday, December 12, 2009

In short: Toy Reanimator (2002)

A young woman tells a strange, true story to a high schooler who works in a toy shop that looks more like a toy museum. The story pertains a strange creature of the woman's childhood, living in something that looks like a large gas tank in the woods, repairing children's toys magically, but only after exact explanations, just as if the one doing the repairs wouldn't completely understand how the world outside of its tank works.

One day, the girl has an accident when she goes on a walk with her baby brother that leaves her brother dead and herself blind on one eye. Of course, she goes to the toy-fixer to get herself and her brother repaired, but sometimes, parts get mixed up. And what if a person doesn't get the heart she or he needs to be fully alive?

Toy Reanimator was obviously shot on much hated (by me) digital and features mostly CGI effects to boot, but does nonetheless look rather nifty. There is something to be said for a director having an actual vision of how his film is supposed to look, even if the soft focus photography is so soft that it nearly crosses from "dreamy" into "David Hamilton" territory. At least there is a good aesthetic reason for the way the film looks apart from "I thought it would be cool", so I'm rather alright with it.

The Japanese short film directed by someone going under the name of Hakubun is an urban fairy tale, you see, and as such, naturalism has to stay as far away as possible from its realization. The film's style and tone fit its fairy tale aspirations perfectly, hitting the sweetspot between the weird, the wonderful and the slightly terrifying it is aiming for. In its execution Toy Reanimator reminds me of the good moments of contemporary primary world fantasy writers - exactly the sort of thing cinema has chosen to ignore nearly completely. Fortunately, we have random pseudonymous Japanese directors to make up for it.


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