A Town Called Panic

If someone laced Wallace and Gromit’s stockpile of West Country cheeses with hallucinogens, they might start to show some of the free-associative abandon of the characters in this trippy debut feature from gifted/demented Belgian stop-motion animators Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar. The pair craft their film from plastic figurines and a host of art-class staples (poster paints, cotton wool, Plasticine) and tell the story of how Cowboy, Indian and Horse lose their shared provincial home to a race of bumbling aquatic reptiles based somewhere near the earth’s core.

Trouble starts when Cowboy and Indian decide to build Horse a barbecue for his birthday. They order bricks over the internet and buy 50 trillion of them when a coffee cup jams the keyboard. They hide the bricks on their roof, the bricks crush the house, they build a new one, reptiles steal it… There’s no point going on: the plot lunges forward with the aid of whatever wacky twist allows Aubier and Patar to incorporate some comic bickering or a deadpan sight gag. The parochial humour, overlapping dialogue plus the choreographing of the action with lots of small characters on oversized sets recalls Jacques Tati, but this is more throwaway. The film’s problem is that it fails to make emotional connections between us and the characters, opening up a chasm that no mechanised, snowball-tossing penguin can bridge.

Release details

Rated: PG
Release date: Friday October 8 2010
Duration: 77 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Stephane Auber, Vincent Patar
Screenwriter: Stephane Auber, Vincent Patar