Animation Fantasia Festival

Fantasia Festival Review: ‘Mad God’ is a Masterpiece of Gross-Out Gore and Nightmarish Imaginings

August 22, 2021Ben MK

With such landmark movies as the original Star Wars trilogy, RoboCop and Jurassic Park under his belt, Phil Tippett has made a name for himself by working with some of the most iconic directors the film industry has ever known. Now, after a decades-long career in visual effects, Tippett is stepping into the director's chair. And with his feature debut, Mad God, he's bringing to the screen one of the most imaginatively twisted and bizarre visions moviegoing audiences have ever seen.

Told entirely without dialogue and using a mixture of live-action and stop-motion animation, the film follows an unnamed and masked character called the Assassin on a dangerous mission. Descending from the ashen skies above a war-torn, dystopian and steampunk-looking alien world, he must make his way further and further down towards the planet's core. Armed with nothing but a map, he encounters a host of grotesque and gruesomely malformed entities, some humanoid and some not, but most of which appear to be capable of nothing other than chaos and violence. And when he finally reaches his destination, he must confront the very darkness that has consumed the souls of the many he has passed along the way — and perhaps, soon enough, his own as well.

Part creature feature, part industrial nightmare, the result plays something like an extended version of a 1990s Tool or Nine Inch Nails music video by way of Terry Gilliam, with a dose of such '80s fantasy cult classics as Labyrinth and Legend added in for good measure. Some thirty years in the making, Mad God isn't a movie for the faint of heart, nor for those with a dislike for experimental filmmaking. But if monsters, mechanical contraptions and gross-out gore are your go-tos, then this might very well be the masterpiece you've been searching for.

Mad God makes its North American premiere at the 2021 Fantasia International Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 23 min.

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