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Parents' Guide to

The Spine of Night

By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Tons of gore, nudity in very mature animated sci-fi movie.

Movie NR 2021 94 minutes
The Spine of Night Poster Image

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What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

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This extremely mature animated sci-fi gorefest makes up for its wooden storytelling with its wild visuals, old-timey Rotoscope animation (both fluid and creepy), and all-out, unchecked tone. Paying tribute to films like Heavy Metal, animators like Ralph Bakshi (The Lord of the Rings, Fire and Ice, Cool World), and artists like Frank Frazetta, The Spine of Night goes full-bore. In terms of nudity and gore, it handily surpasses any of its inspirations; characters in The Spine of Night aren't just stabbed and sliced -- their flesh and blood goes flying in different directions. But the dialogue is mostly dreadful, with static, serious descriptions and explanations of just how dire everything is.

A notable exception is a scene in which a young couple, having survived an attack on their village, plops a bit of bloom in their fire and starts to "see the universe." They talk in high-school level poetry (the film's title comes from their dialogue). The movie's animation, which traces the movements of live actors, is close enough to real life to feel creepy, but it's also mesmerizing. Lawless, Grant, and Gabriel (the latter of whom actually looks like herself) manage solid performances, while Oswalt seems miscast. Larry Fessenden is hilarious as an old man who shrieks "Doom! Hahahaha! Doom! Hahahaha!" Despite its creaky storytelling, the sheer corporeal energy of The Spine of Night may earn it a cult following.

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