The Spine Of Night (2021)

Rating: **
Review Date: 2/7/22
Cast: Lucy Lawless

An elite group of librarians are charged with collecting books and guarding knowledge, but they refuse to share or use that knowledge for the benefit of Mankind, which is living in poverty, famine, illiteracy, and disease. Knowledge is power, and power corrupts. As the human race stumbles into oblivion, Tzod, the "witch of the swamp" (Lucy Lawless), travels to the mountains to seek The Guardian who protects a magic bloom. Unknown to him, the bloom has spread and corrupted men with its immense power, so Tzod sits around and tells him stories from the outside world, including how she died. It just gets weirder and more confusing after that, as legends of eternally warring gods get thrown into the mix, attempting to explain Man's barbaric tendencies and endless lust for blood.

It's a grim, depressing, and oppressively bleak look at the dark side of Man, and the hopelessness and futility of everything. The dialog is weak, the voice acting is flat, the characters are uninteresting and unlikable, and the story is as impenetrable as it is dull. The whole thing feels like a showcase for blood, violence, gore, and brutality, and it admittedly features some of the finest animated blood I've ever seen. However, that's not enough to base an entire film on, and I began to lose interest after only twenty minutes. The pacing is painfully slow and the rotoscoped action looks sluggish. Even though the characters move fluidly, the camera is almost always locked down and the environments are overly static, which gives the impression that the film was shot in someone's basement. In addition to being boring and confusing, it's also unattractive and never offered anything for me to latch onto, either visually, emotionally, or intellectually. It aims for being an adult fantasy akin to "Fire And Ice" (1983) and "Heavy Metal" (1981), but it resembles the disappointing "Heavy Metal 2000" (2000) more than anything. The film was obviously a passion project for the director, but it's far too personal to be accessible or entertaining.