Wednesday, May 09, 2018

The Hermit (short): It’s a Bug’s Life

Insects survive. It’s what they do. However, it is not always such a bed of roses being the last species standing. One insect survivor endures the threats of a hostile environment as well as a profound sense of alienation in the Raúl & Daniel Díez’s animated short film The Hermit (trailer here), which kicks off a week of special screenings this Friday in Los Angeles.

The opening titles tell us this was a time when warring insects ruled our planet. That sounds like the distant past, but the décor is rather post-apocalyptic looking. Either way, The Hermit would make quite provocative pairing with The Hellstrom Chronicle or perhaps Saul Bass’s Phase IV. Initially, viewers will just soak up the stunningly immersive world-building, as the armored mantis, grasshopper, or whatever forages about his desert wasteland. Eventually, it builds to a Twilight Zone-style ironic ending. Frankly, it would be a pretty potent twist, but it is just overshadowed by the awesome spectacle of the 3D animation and the harsh wonders of the surrounding world.

For the records, Raúl Díez is credited as director, screenwriter, co-producer, and co-executive producer, while his brother Daniel is listed as co-artistic director, co-3D supervisor, co-producer, and co-executive producer. No matter what you call them, they both most likely spent many sleepless nights on the project. However, the resulting film should make the animation world sit up and take notice. This is a macabrely beautiful film, subtly enhanced by José Abenza’s eerie sound design.

The Hermit is only fifteen minutes, but it is exactly the kind of viewing experience Shane Acker’s feature treatment of 9 promised, but never quite delivered. Festival programmers could also consider it on a bill proceeding Birdboy: The Forgotten Children. In any event, The Hermit should be Oscar-qualified after its Laemmle screenings—and it deserves to be a contender. Very highly recommended, The Hermit starts a week of special afternoon screenings this Friday (5/11) at the Laemmle Royal.