Review: ‘Stopmotion’

Robert Morgan Creates A Waking Nightmare That Blurs The Lines Of Reality

I’ve been a fan of stop-motion animation ever since I first laid eyes on the work of Ray Harryhausen. The way he brought the fantasy creatures to life in films like Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans captured my imagination. Then once I saw Adam Jones’ work in the early 90’s for Tool’s music video, Prison Sex I saw how that style of animation could easily be translated into bone chilling horror scenery. I was left craving more, leading me to learning all I could about the painstaking process. 

Stop-motion animation is the process of moving a model millimeters at a time, snapping a picture and repeating in order to create a cohesive film. When done properly, one can take a simple piece of clay and weave an extremely beautiful, sometimes horrifying tale. It’s a tedious undertaking but director Robert Morgan is no stranger to the process. With multiple shorts under his belt marrying the strange with the macabre, the script for the film Stopmotion is in his very capable hands.  


Ella (Aisling Franciosi) is a hungry young animator living under the oppressive rule of her mother, an accomplished stop motion animator herself recently left crippled by arthritis. Ella is left to wait on her mother hand and foot, cutting her food and animating her final film while her mother barks orders from behind. When a medical emergency leaves her mother in a coma, Ella’s boyfriend Tom (Tom York) moves her in to an empty apartment to complete her final oeuvre. There she meets a little girl (Caoilinn Springall) who leads her on a journey taking the story to deep dark places. 

Between the well-done animation, a soundscape that leaves you on edge and gut-wrenching visceral practical effects, Stopmotion simply ticked all the boxes for me. The relationship between Ella and her mother was played to perfection leaving the viewer to sympathize with the young woman yearning to get out from under her mother’s thumb and be able to create what she wants. The soundscape is minimal but creates a vibe that gets under your skin. The practical effects? Wow. When the little girl starts guiding Ella’s story taking things from the mundane to macabre things get messy quickly and will leave the viewer squirming. I mean, I’m a seasoned gore hound and I had to turn away at a scene about 75 minutes in. 

I would recommend this one to anybody looking for something unique in the horror genre. Robert Morgan blends eerie stop-motion animation with a captivating performance from Aisling Franciosi creating a waking nightmare that blurs the lines of reality and will leave you questioning what you just saw. 

Stopmotion is in select theaters now and will be streaming on Shudder May 31st