Sunday, April 08, 2012

Aspen Shortsfest '12: The Monster of Nix

“The End” will have particularly finality for the people of Nix. Their village has been ravaged by an unseen monster, leaving only void in its wake. A young boy will go on an archetypal fantasy quest to save his grandmother and the rest of his town in Rosto’s The Monster of Nix (trailer here), which screens this Thursday as part of the 2012 Aspen Shortsfest.

It is hard to pin Nix down in terms of exact time and place, but it bears similarity to Tolkien’s shire and early industrial Europe, with the occasional anachronistic reference thrown in to amuse pop culture audiences. At least it did, before the monster struck, literally carving out large swaths of the hamlet. While most of the survivors flee willy-nilly, Willy heads into the forest, seeking the heart of the matter. Along the way, he encounters a cowardly forest ranger and many strange creatures, including the Langemanne, whom the ranger misidentified as the monster of Nix. They are actually guardians of a sort with an important role to play in the fable. They are still plenty of suspects though, including Virgil, a giant swallow who is certainly creepy, even if he is not the monster in question.

As Willy pursues his destiny, Nix veers into metaphysical territory, involving the very nature of stories. Given Rosto’s darkly ominous imagery and cerebral twists on fairy tale conventions, the film might not be suitable for younger viewers. Frankly, it is more like children’s film for adults. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a lot of youngsters getting fired-up for the vocal talents of Terry Gilliam (as the ranger), Tom Waits (as Virgil), and the cult band, The Residents (serving as an eerie chorus).

Visually, Nix is quite striking, incorporating 3D animation into a richly evocative fantasy landscape. Though Gilliam was only involved as in the recording booth and as a supporter, it will definitely appeal to the fans of his Python animation. Clocking in around half an hour, it should be a good quick fix for genre fans waiting for the new Tolkien film. Recommended for animation connoisseurs with a taste for the surreal, it screens this Thursday (4/12) as part of program six at this year’s Aspen Shortsfest.