My favorite animated movie of the year. This is about a young orphaned boy who has been raised by these slimy trash creatures his whole life. He learns who he truly is when an exterminator sets out to rid the town of this nuisance; even though these underground trolls are not a threat, people fear what they don’t understand. I was taken right away with The Boxtrolls, because it just thrusts you right into it. It doesn’t have a voice-over narration, providing you with a backstory or summary, and I respect the hell out of a film that expects more from its audience. The opening plays almost like a silent film, as these trolls don’t have a means of intelligibly communicating audibly, and I dug it.
If it’s not human, it communicates using its own language.
This is put together with impressive 3-D stop motion animation; as the end credits start to roll, you get to see an artist hard at work, and you see exactly how much time, effort and energy went into the simplest of scenes for this. It’s something that I can very much appreciate, because there is a craft to it. This is actually based off of a novel called Here Be Monsters!, which makes sense, being that there are illustrations throughout the book. These hoarding trolls grow pretty quickly on you, but it is the humans that are actually the villains; they’re the ones that make this grislier than most, and they’re petty and selfish, motivated almost entirely by lavish cheese like they’re straight out of a Wallace & Gromit short. Because they do some gross things with the animation and things are just a little bit off and different, it heightens the sense of tension and the danger, because this may just be that animated movie that does something different, leaving the audience speechless.
To be fair, the humans are way more disgusting than the actual subterranean dwellers.
The Boxtrolls has wonderful and animation and great voice work. There’s a nice message about discovering who you are, and it has characters that both boys and girls can relate to. What makes it special is that it has elements that affect you on a base level; even for the creepiest of beasts, animal cruelty is always affecting, and with the slave labor that they are put into gets you to really root for them to break out and succeed in their integration. I highly recommend this.
The Boxtrolls (2014) ****
– Critic for Hire
Want to see where this fell in my list of best films of the 2014? See for yourself here.