A ghastly, grotesque and gorgeous movie for children with guts
On the screen I can see how the already ugly and scary villain goes through metamorphoses due to an allergic reaction to cheese. His face is twisting and turning into a formless mass that would make Frankenstein look cute in comparison. And yet this is a mild care compared to what’s to come further on. There will be torture. There will be gruesome deaths in front of our eyes. There will be gigantic robotic death machines controlled by evil creatures.
I look around me in the cinema and every child I see looks strangely composed. No one is having a breakdown, no one is sobbing. They even seem to have forgotten about their popcorn boxes. The only sound that doesn’t come from the film is when someone leans a bit in the long direction and falls off the plastic stool they had put on top of the ordinary seat in order to see better. There’s no hysterical reaction whatsoever as far as I can see. And I think to myself: “Children these days! They’ve got guts!”
Stop motion technique
The Boxtrolls is ghastly, grotesque and gorgeously looking movie made with classical stop motion animations, made in a style that makes you think of Tim Burton or perhaps Terry Gilliam.
The story goes like this: Cheesebridge is governed by a cheese loving aristocracy. In the sewers dwells a population of a certain kind of trolls, which like to dress in empty boxes. The trolls are oppressed in the worst possible ways and there’s even an exterminator who is trying to evaporate them altogether. Among the trolls lives a human boy who is trying to save the box trolls by the help of a girl who is the daughter of one of the cheese aristocrats.
As you here it’s not terribly complicated, which is a good thing, especially for a movie aimed at children. Trying to explain the plot whispering in the ear of your clueless child is not a pleasure, neither for the child, nor for everyone around you. In this case there’s no need for explanations. We “get it”.
As opposed to many other movies for young audiences, it doesn’t have “merchandise sales” written all over it. It’s possible that some kind of toys exist, but it-s clearly not the sole purpose for making the movie. It’s not a vehicle.
Some brief final thoughts
Thumbs up: for the uninhibited use of imagination and the craftsmanship and love that has gone into the making of it. You can tell. It’s just beautiful.
Thumbs down: for watching it in Swedish with dubbed voices rather than in the original English. We did it for scheduling reasons, but I hit myself when I saw what actor voices we missed, including Ben Kingsley, Elle Fanning, Nick Frost and Simon Pegg. Gah! Don’t do my mistake. Watch the original.
And whatever you do, don’t miss: the delicious little extra scene that comes after the text credits. It’s worth waiting for and made me love this film even a little more.
The Boxtrolls (Graham Annable & Anthony Stacchi, UK 2014) My rating: 4/5
I wasn’t the only one in the audience who watched it as an adult. I was in company with the other bloggers in the Swedish film blogging network Filmspanarna. Here’s what my fellow bloggers made of it (all in Swedish):