Monday, March 21, 2022

The Spine of Night (2022)

Streaming Service: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: The Spine of Night (2022)
Genre: Animation, Action, Adventure
Length: 93 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: Gorgonaut, Reno Productions, Koch Films, Velvet Spoon, Wild Duck Productions, Freaks On, RLJE Films, Shudder
Directors: Philip Gelatt, Morgan Galen Kingr
Writers: Philip Gelatt, Morgan Galen King
Actors: Richard E. Grant, Lucy Lawless, Patton Oswalt, Betty Gabriel, Joe Manganiello, Patrick Breen, Larry Fessenden, Jason Gore, Maggie Lakis, Tom Lipinski, Nina Lisandrello, Rob McClure, Malcolm Mills, Abigail Savage, Jordan Douglas Smith
IMDb Blurb: Ultra-violent, epic fantasy set in a land of magic follows heroes from different eras and cultures battling against a malevolent force.

Cat’s Point of View:
The Spine of Night was both a surprising delight and grisly spectacle that has seared itself into my mind forever.
That being said, I’m afraid this movie will suffer from a very niche target audience. I happen to wholeheartedly live in their demographic, though. Before I get into why I adored this film, I do need to provide a disclaimer – which ties in with why I’m afraid The Spine of Night might struggle a bit.
While animated, The Spine of Night is absolutely not suitable for children whatsoever. Hard no. This is not a ‘cartoon.’ Aside from the generic full frontal nudity of male and female characters alike, it was a bloody gore-fest of violence. 

We’re talking skull-splitting, evisceration, and immolation in grand animated glory. This has to be one of the most brutal things I have ever experienced. But hey, there’s zero sex involved with The Spine of Night. The nakedness of characters is only a backdrop. That’s just how they culturally dressed (or didn’t, as the case may be). Honestly, though, if you’re watching people being cleaved in half and disemboweled, a few nondescript bits of anatomical pieces bobbing around on screen shouldn’t be an issue. I digress…

Now that’s out of the way, let’s get into the good stuff.
My primary concern for The Spine of Night was the fact that it was pitched as an anthology. As I mentioned in the March 2022 Top 20 article, my relationship with that particular film framework is a bit strained. It left me a little guarded with a hint of trepidation for The Spine of Night. I was so excited after the trailer that I was dreading something like that messing the experience up for me.
The good news is that I hardly noticed. If this was supposed to be an anthology, it is the most seamless one I’ve ever seen. The Spine of Night flowed smoothly through its story, which was mostly told through flashbacks. Speaking of flashing back, I was hit with all sorts of nostalgia because this felt so much like Heavy Metal (1981). This sort of narrative could have even been in the same universe with the story arc from that classic.

Other than some bits of the ultra-violence, the only thing that remotely put me off even a little was the animation style, itself. I’m not the biggest fan of the rotoscope style, in this fashion. The Spine of Night made it work, however. The overall production was simply gorgeous. The contrast between the characters and the breathtaking backgrounds was interesting more often than distracting.
The story made my sword and sorcery fantasy-loving heart happy.
Out of all the streaming services available, Shudder is the perfect place for The Spine of Night to call home. You’ll be able to catch it there as a Shudder Exclusive starting Thursday, March 24th.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 76%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 62%
Metascore – 57%
Metacritic User Score – 7.6/10
IMDB Score – 6.2/10
Trust the Dice: Parental Advisory Rating – R (borderline NC-17)
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4/5
Movie Trailer:

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