Scary is the unknown—and the unknown is at the heart of this delightful collection of international short films (collectively dubbed Spooky, Scary Stories) from countries like France, Brazil and Iran. Nine stories make for an eclectic range of live-action drama, digital animation and hand-drawn illustration, each with an element of the abstract that plays to our whims.
One of the more poignant stories, “Colored Pencils,” is the story of a fatherless young boy named Claudio who finds himself immersed in black-and-white world. One day, he stumbles upon three magic colored pencils that (literally) bring color to his life. Claudio is convinced that the pencils can help restore his father’s blurry image through a portrait he plans to draw using the pencils. The short stands out with rich emotion and a rather ambiguous ending that begs for more.
“Junk” tells the story of Jasper O’Leary, a boy so obsessed with junk food that he begins to eat real junk. His taste becomes consuming, and he concocts an ill-advised plan to swallow an oil tanker. It eventually costs him more than (or exactly?) what he bargained for. In the vein of director Tim Burton, "Junk" is a melodic yet dark fairytale that distinguishes itself with a decidedly inauspicious aesthetic.
The title of the collection is somewhat misleading. Especially in the waning days of October, we anticipated the spooky and scary to be Halloween-related. That was a small distraction, since the majority of the shorts aren't necessarily spooky or scary. Ultimately, though, the title lends itself to interpretation. The subject matter is less goblins and ghouls, more coming-of-age. Many of the adolescent characters find themselves challenged in an adult world, one that's never easy to understand (even for grown-ups)—which can be downright scary.