Mad God (2021)

Animation/ Fantasy/ Horror
Rated 18
Spoiler Free

Effects master Phil Tippett, who has directed before, goes all in with Mad God, an animated nightmare from horror platform Shudder. Phil Tippett sounds like the name of an owner of a skip service from Sunderland, “Old sofa you can’t give away? Skip it with Phil Tippett’s skips!”. It’s a humdrum name for a Hollywood creative force, though his film is anything but ordinary.

Mad God is the animation culmination of one man’s dedication to practical effects. Not just dedication, pure artistry. Phil Tippett is the Mad God, his creation inspired by leftovers in his industrial, trapezoid, iron refuse-dumps. He has created a stop motion descent into hell as an unnamed, voiceless character embarks on a journey only a lunatic could envisage. Like a Tool video off its medication, bleaker than midwinter and dirtier than Sid Vicious' needles, Mad God is a surreal, brutalist quest.

Sure overall it is a good thing, but CGI frequently annoys the bollix off me. At its worst it can be either a lazy fix or just a lazy impersonation of entertainment, palmed off on animators to create. CGI fire is my current bugbear, but I’m sure somewhere in my notepad is a bigger rant about that so we’ll put a pin in it for now. At what point do practical FX become animation? Because Mad God is either an animated film or 83 minutes of practical FX. The reason I ask is because there is almost no talking in the film and after a while I felt like I was in a video art piece. A terrifying, nightmarish installation.

Mad God is a visual and technical masterpiece, boasting some action scenes many big budget films can’t rival for feeling. It is hard not to be wowed. The novelty wore off for me though, and I slipped in and out of the story, enjoying the spectacle but not as a film, rather as a sense of wonder. I have no regrets about spending a tenner on the DVD (because I didn’t want to subscribe to Shudder, although that may be a mistake if I pay for more of their productions ad-hoc) but I can’t claim to have engaged with what there is of its story.

Bedsit it?

I want to score Mr Skip-it-with-Tippett based on skill alone, because compared to almost every fix-it-in-post-production prick he’s pure genius, but I can’t because I have to review a film as a whole. Mad God is a one man monument to stop motion and the power of in camera visual artistry, a work of art, projected in front of you. I highly recommend you watch it, I just can’t promise you’ll like it. 5/10

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