Reviewed by Cassie Jo Ochoa
To go into Mad God blind is perhaps a miracle as the film is largely sold on the strength of the history of the project. Director Phil Tippett is a VFX legend who skyrocketed to success after his work on Jurassic Park and Robocop. Initially though, before his production studio took off, he was working on a project that was designed as a place for nightmares to run free. Thirty-four years later and a team of volunteers to work at his side, Tippett was able to get a fully-funded Kickstarter to turn Mad God into a feature and is making another stop on the festival circuit at the Nightstream Film Festival. Is the film worth the years of nightmares and countless hours that stop-motion animation takes? Absolutely. It’s a brutal, unending purgatory but you can feel every single ounce of love poured into this project.
Mad God is told in three distinct vignettes, but moviegoers are brought into the darkness by following The Assassin. Through this character who is humanoid viewers are escorted through a Dante-esque hellscape, literally going down the layers through things that slowly have less resemblance to the world we currently share. A briefcase at their side, The Assassin trudges through layers of some of the most disgusting imagery this reviewer has ever seen. Make no mistake, this is not a film for the weak-willed as viscera oozes out of every single frame. As The Assassin goes through the world to complete his mission, the terrors build until each puzzle piece of motivation clicks into place. Unfortunately, the plot of Mad God does suffer a bit as the visual phantasmagoria becomes overwhelming. It’s very much a film that is more mood than narrative.
Yet, Mad God is beautiful. The horrors are never-ending, and the nihilism becomes so much that this reviewer was brought to tears just wishing for some moment of beauty within the eighty-three-minute runtime, but this is all a positive. It’s certainly a fantastic showcase for the talent of everyone involved, it just occasionally turns into a struggle to follow what to make of it. It’s a nightmare of a Bible passage wrapped in a bloody towel, and it certainly will be a film that you either love or you hate. Mad God may be a trip into hell, but it’s worth the ticket.