A comatose five-year-old girl journeys through a dark industrial dreamscape, following her mother’s voice on a transistor radio to find her way back to consciousness.
Grimmfest Says: Childhood is less the “land of lost content” that A.E. Housman describes, than the place where most of our deepest, darkest fears first take shape. The greatest Fairy Tales are seldom comforting or escapist, but triggering and traumatising; a means of confronting and striving to banish the darkness. Such notions are at the very core of this truly astonishing cinematic labour of love. A beautifully-realised steampunk gothic fable, with gorgeous, glowing 35mm cinematography, jaw-dropping production design, and a powerful emotional core, it establishes itself at once as a major work in the cinema of the truly fantastic. Writer-Director Ryan Stevens Harris cites Terry Gilliam, Guillermo Del Toro, and Jan Svankmajer as inspirations and influences, but there are elements, too, of Jean-Pierre Jeunet in the burnished brass-pipe visual stylings, and echoes of Tarsem Singh’s THE FALL and Bernard Rose’s PAPERHOUSE in the way the fantastic elements are all grounded by, and framed within, a detailed study of a child trying to process trauma through the power of the imagination. There are nods to Cronenberg and Clive Barker in some of the more startling body-horror-based imagery, and maybe a tip of the hat to that most emotionally harrowing of children’s films, THE NEVERENDING STORY, but this is nevertheless an utterly unique, visionary, and deeply personal work, anchored by a remarkable, engaging, and quite fearless lead performance from the director’s young daughter, Haven, making her film debut. Filled with dark, disturbing, nightmare-freighted imagery and weird, wild magic, yet ultimately positive and redemptive; a tale of a child’s dreams fulfilled and a family reunited, of the power of love to lead you out of the darkness, it is surely destined to join the pantheon of those much-loved not-quite-children’s films that open up the eyes and the mind to the possibilities of cinema and, once encountered, stay with us forever. Grimmfest is both excited and honoured to be presenting the International Premiere.
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