Director: Robert Morgan
Screenplay: Robert Morgan and Robin King
Starring: Aisling Franciosi, Stella Gonet and Tom York
Country: United Kingdom
Running Time: 107 mins
Year: 2024

Robert Morgan is one of the horror short filmmakers working today and when news broke that he was directing a feature length project, I was beyond excited. For those of you who are unaware, Rob’s been making stop-motion short films for almost thirty years, many of which have been included on boutique Blu-rays such as the Schramm sequel Tomorrow I Will Be Dirt or the Basket Case short Belial’s Dream. His shorts are usually the perfect length, capturing disturbing visuals with top-notch stop-motion animation and as soon as I received an offer to check out Stopmotion, I jumped at the chance.

The film follows stop-motion animator Ella (played by The Nightingale’s Aisling Franciosi), who’s in the middle of working on a film for her mother, who suffers from health issues such as arthritis. After her mother has a stroke, Ella tries her best to finish the film for her mother before a girl enters her life and tells her to start work on a different film, which Ella decides to do. Before long, the film that Ella begins work on ends up taking a toll on her sanity in ways she never expected. 

I don’t want to spoil anything else about the film, as it’s a slow-burn feature and most of the key to the film working for you is to be along for the ride. Throughout the entire film, I couldn’t get one comparison out of my head, Prano Bailey-Bond’s Censor. Both films cover an aspect of the film industry that isn’t touched on very often in film (in Censor’s case, it’s being a film censor and here, it’s being a stop-motion animator) and feature the lead character slowly losing their mind after a tragedy in their family. Both films have their unique strengths, with Stopmotion’s titular stop-motion animation being on brand for Morgan, having that gooey, uncomfortable vibe that make his shorts so excellent. 

The issue I had with Stopmotion primarily revolves around the lead character Ella. While Franciosi’s performance is committed and well-acted, I couldn’t really latch on much about her as a character in a way that the film really wants to you, and it made chunks of the film a little bit of a slog to sit through. However, even with the dull moments every so often, it’s not long before something wacky would come along again from the stop-motion side of things and seeing a peek into the world of creating stop-motion films from a man with almost thirty years of experience is the absolute highlight of the film for me. 

While it didn’t quite blow me away like I was hoping for, Stopmotion is a commendable first effort from Morgan and has me excited for his future with features. The film’s icky and gross in all of the intended ways, and when the stop-motion is the centre focus, it’s great. It’s the rest of the film that bogs it down, but given that the film’s only an hour and a half, there’s a good enough balance of the two that it’s something I still strongly recommend checking out if you’re a fan of horror, both psychological and gooey. 

Film:

Stopmotion released on the 1st July via Acorn Media on DVD and Blu-ray. I viewed the Blu-ray and it looked solid. Most of the disc’s space is used for the film itself, as the extras aren’t super lengthy and don’t take up too much space, and it looked great on my display. The English DTS 5.1 MA track surprised me the most, with the audio mix taking full advantage of a surround set-up and given the film’s great sound design, it compliments the film well. Optional English, French and Spanish subtitles are included. On an A/V level, everything’s solid here, no complaints at all. The following extras are included: 

Interview with actress Aisling Franciosi

Interview with director Robert Morgan

Behind the Scenes 

The interview with Aisling Franciosi runs for four minutes and it’s standard behind-the-scenes fare, with Franciosi discussing who the character of Ella is and her experience working with Robert Morgan. 

The interview with director Robert Morgan is a bit lengthier, running for nine and a half minutes and it’s my favourite extra on the disc. While it’s similar to the Franciosi interview, it’s more in-depth and Morgan details where the concept for the film came from, collaborating with writer Robin King and more. 

The behind the scenes featurette also runs for nine and a half minutes and showcases some on-set footage of Morgan directing, behind-the-scenes with the practical effects and more. I always like seeing these types of extras to see a director’s directing style, and it’s clear that so much effort went into bringing Morgan’s vision to life here. A solid extra.

A few trailers play when you first boot the disc up too, for Shudder titles Mad God and Skinamarink. 

Acorn Media/Shudder’s release of Stopmotion doesn’t go above and beyond when it comes to lengthy extras, but the one’s included are pretty good and the transfer is solid and fans of stop-motion and psychological horror will more than likely enjoy this release. Recommended.

Disc/Packaging:

Where to watch Stopmotion
Stopmotion - Acorn Media/Shudder
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Physical media collector with a questionable taste in film.

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