CFF Review: Mischief Reigns in the Surreal, Philosophical Animation ‘Interface’
Amid the many traditional, basic films that come out, every once in awhile we get a film that goes beyond the boundaries of what you expect from filmmaking. “Interface” is such a film that innovates with a philosophical and surreal horror plot that is brought to life with low res animation.
What started off as a 24-episode web series made its way into the Chattanooga Film Festival this year as a beautiful and unique feature film created by Justin Tomchuk, that can still be viewed on Youtube.
The film follows two characters: a silent protagonist who can’t age, and a shapeshifting pink entity named Mischief who accompanies our protagonist on a journey to coming to terms with his past and finding his great-granddaughter. At the same time, an electromagnetic entity named KAMI is developed by a corporation called Greetings Robotics that chases the duo.
It also follows an alternate history where the Philadelphia Project was real (a hoax that insinuated the US military attempted to make one of their naval ships invisible and ended up teleporting it hundreds of miles). The experiment instead reveals cerebral electricity, which changes the look of the world and reveals entities such as ghosts.
The two main characters stand as an engaging couple that keeps the film flowing, especially Mischief, who offers moments of comedy or absurdism. Their relationship is like a Dante-Virgil companionship, or somewhat similar to Ryuk and Light in the anime Death Note. While their intentions are never quite known, their journey through this dystopian landscape and philosophical musings are strange enough to keep interest.
What’s most immediately notable about this film is the animation style, which resembles early MS paint pictures but was created in Adobe in the super low resolution of 640×480 that makes each line used economical. The film is exceptionally colorful and almost always includes fantastical creatures or sequences. It also makes use of static-looking animation to insinuate supernatural, cyberpunk elements.
This psychedelic film would feel familiar to fans of the weirder Adult Swim shorts, and in fact, Adult Swim released two short episodes of Interface.
This film toes the line between arthouse film and weird, bizarre animation that one might find on the internet in the early 2000s, somewhat similar to Don Hertzfeldt’s It’s Such a Beautiful Day but a bit more off-kilter. It’s definitely not something that everyone will be down with, and is quite dense in most places, but even if one were to watch it for the visual style it would be worth the chance.
Each transition between episodes contain a sweet 90s-style colorful shapes animation that I was super found of. Interface also has a great, dark synthy-yet-haunting piano-based soundtrack and some killer magical sci-fi sound design going on.
While some might see some portions of it as too philosophical, Interface has a funny tone that keeps it from being too boring. The animation style is spectacular, and the dark sci-fi story will be fun for many viewers. Check it out on Youtube for free.