Animaton Fantasy

SXSW Review: ‘The Spine of Night’

March 21, 2021Ben MK

In animation, the possibilities are endless, but filmmakers might still find they have to exercise restraint due to the intended age of their audience. That's far from the case, however, with the decidedly adult-themed The Spine of Night, a viciously violent and bloody action fantasy that plays like Heavy Metal, 300 and Conan the Barbarian all rolled into one.

Written and directed by Philip Gelatt and Morgan Galen King, the film tells the story of a far away world where a mysterious cosmic force known as the Bloom has given rise to a centuries-long conflict. But while some, like the so-called swamp witch Tzod (Lucy Lawless), fight to use the powers of the Bloom for the good of the people, others, like the self-proclaimed God-King Ghal-Sur (Jordan Douglas Smith), would much rather harness its raw power to raise an army of disciples and bend the people to his will. Then there are those like the weary Guardian (Richard E. Grant), the latest in a long line of dutiful defenders who have sworn their lives to protecting the Bloom and, by extension, protecting the planet's populace from self-destruction.

Also featuring the voices of Patton Oswalt, Joe Manganiello and Betty Gabriel, what follows is an epic saga worthy of J.R.R. Tolkien and George R.R. Martin. And with no shortage of fantastical visuals, gratuitous nudity, and gory dismemberment, even Ralph Bakshi himself would be proud.

The Spine of Night screens under the Midnighters section at the 2021 South by Southwest Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 33 min.

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