Mad God (2021)

Rating: **
Review Date: 10/8/22
Writted And Directed By: Phil Tippett

Over thirty years in the making, Phil Tippett's "Mad God" is a repulsively disgusting and relentlessly disturbing journey through a hellish nightmare of endless cruelty and suffering. It's a misanthropic reflection of the human condition that follows a lone assassin as they descend through a tortured landscape that resembles a Hieronymus Bosch painting come to life. There's a loose narrative, but no conventional plot, so you can't expect any revelation, revolution, or resolution to come at the end. There's no dialog (apart from occasional gibberish), so everything is told through bold imagery, body language, and unsettling sound effects. All of the characters are imbued with a certain amount of humanity, which is a real testament to Tippett's skill as an artist and an animator. Stop motion animation is difficult to begin with, but creating something that has a soul and the ability to express emotions and generate empathy is real magic.

The film utilizes stop motion animation, live action, puppetry, miniatures, and CGI to create a multi-layered visual collage of unsettling horror. It looks fantastic, but the pacing is frustratingly languid and it feels as though the film is bearing such a heavy burden that it's physically painful to move forward. This allows the sickening imagery to burn into your brain and fester, as if you were also a prisoner of its depravity who is desperately trying to escape. As a social commentary, it's a film that revels in terrible things and forces us to question our humanity and values, while focusing on the complete hopelessness and utter pointlessness of everything. That said, it's a very difficult film to recommend, and it will haunt me for quite some time. If I'd seen this when I was younger and more impressionable, it would have seriously traumatized me. Phil Tippett is an undisputed master of his craft and I hold him in extremely high regard, but his magnum opus may be a little too intimate and unpleasant for most audiences to comprehend and appreciate.