“Howling at the Moon” – Coyote (Short Film Review)

Rating:

This was a trip. There’s no other way to really describe this other than just a damn trip. Coyote is the latest short from Lorenz Wunderle, a Swiss animator/director who despite only having limited credits to his name, he’s really already carved a niche for trying to push the boundaries of what he can and what he should be allowed to do with the animated medium. It’s a story of revenge involving a hapless coyote who’s family are torn apart in front of his by some evil satanic wolves. Or at least I think that’s what it’s about,  it might be about more than I can give it credit for.

The most striking thing about Coyoteis not its storytelling but its art and animation. Like a twisted version of Looney Tunes by way of Don Hertzfeldt, it employs very simple character models but much like Bojack Horseman, it allows for a more subtle deployment of facial reactions in order to breathe more life into the characters. This isn’t just a technical display though as it quite cleverly drops you immediately into a position of sympathy for your protagonist which is especially impressive considering the not even ten minute running time. It is a supremely impressive exercise in concise storytelling as even with the surrealist, psychedelia presented, it doesn’t waste even a second of screen-time on any imagery that isn’t helping advance the narrative. It’s also worth noting that there are some lovely snippets of songs written directly for the short that in themselves are as lovely  as any of the stunning imagery presented.

If it’s possible to say that there’s an issue here, it’s that perhaps it’s a little self-consciously aggressive in its imagery with some of the violence seeming too exaggerated, I assume its intention is to represent the animalistic side of it but presenting it in an anthropomorphised fashion for darkly comedic effect but in some ways it doesn’t fully work and feels just a hint jarring with the metaphysical melancholy of certain other sequences. That said, those extremes do create for a fascinating blend, even if for some it may not mix firmly.

The thing is, Coyote is really damn impressive and even more than that, it’s probably quicker just to go and watch it than it is to read a review of it. Not that I’m saying you shouldn’t have read this far but really if you have and you aren’t at least going to watch the trailer below, I haven’t done my job. Give it a go, at worst you’ve spent ten minutes of your time on it but at best especially if you’re a fan of the Adult Swim style of animation, you might well find your new favourite person in Lorenz Wunderle. This is a howling good time. Sorry, I just had to.