Originally posted on Soda & Telepaths June 22nd 2022
Mad God tells the dark and unsettling tale of a world that is on the brink of destruction, or maybe even well over that brink considering how cold and desolate it is. It’s a land filled with horrifying creatures everywhere you look and one man, known simply as The Assassin, must trek through it.
With nothing more than a disintegrating map and a suitcase bomb that will hopefully destroy the entire planet, The Assassin must make his way through the dark apocalyptic land in order to reach his destination where he can release the bomb and bring an end to the mad world that he inhabits.
Mad God Review
Mad God has been in development on some level for about 30 years, almost being abandoned when computer-generated imagery took over the industry and Tippit’s studio got overwhelmed by working on other people’s projects. With a little encouragement from colleagues, and a well-thought-out Kickstarter campaign, a series of shorts in the Mad God series were created and then eventually strung together and expanded on to create the Mad God movie with the very simple plot that opened this review.
From that bare-bones plot, Phil Tippit has decided to just throw in every weird creature he’s ever wanted to design on camera and force the audience to stare at the wild creations that seem to fill the man’s brain… and god bless him for it.
If the name Phil Tippit seems familiar to you, that’s because he’s partially why you couldn’t sleep well after Jurassic Park because he basically decided how all those dinosaurs were going to move so he has a history of figuring out how to make a creature disturb an audience. Mad God is Phil Tippit completely unleashed from the conventions of mainstream cinema that he’s been working under for his entire career and you can tell that this is a pure passion project in every sense.
Telling a mature, silent, stop-motion animated horror fantasy story is the kind of wild idea you can really only make work if you’re some kind of mad genius. Fortunately for us, Phil Tippit is that kind of mad genius, delivering a film that’s unnerving and strange in equal measure that shows off the absolute miracle that is stop-motion animation in the best light you will ever see it in.
This is what happens when you let animators indulge themselves in their weird, unabashedly fucked up side and it’s glorious to behold. Imagine if Alice in Wonderland was less like a fun and weird LSD trip and more like a bad acid trip that’s going to make you have a heart attack before it’s done, that’s Mad God in a nutshell.
Without using a single line of dialogue, Mad God relies heavily on ambiance and visceral visuals to really mess with the audience and it does it almost effortlessly. From weird alien bugs that get squashed in gory detail while screaming like a newborn baby to violent shocking surgeries done while the patient is still writhing around to haunting horrific displays of brutal carnage, it’s all laid out in front of you in exquisite detail and all made even stranger by the nature of how stop motion looks.
There are even times when there’s just a real human being shown on screen and the film speed will change to give them an unnatural look that makes everything even more unsettling.
The raw talent on display in Mad God is stunning, these are artistic skills that really don’t get to be shown off in this way outside of weird YouTube videos. Normally when one thinks of stop motion animation they think of the bright family-friendly works of Aardman or Laika but Mad God reminds the audience that this art style also can be truly horrific and unsettling in ways that you just can’t quite capture with a computer.
It’s the practicality of it all, the knowledge that what you’re seeing on screen is what they made on set makes everything so much more shocking and weird. It almost feels like you could reach out and touch the vile disgusting creatures on screen, though if you did you might not have a hand to pull back.
The only downside with Mad God is that its lack of story might make it harder for some people to access. It’s more of a visual experience, a display of raw talent and atmosphere than a compelling narrative. The characters are visually stunning but you’ll be hard-pressed to name any of the details about the characters other than “Is squishy” and “Contains a surprising amount of blood for something that size”. Hell, the only reason that you would know the main character’s name is by looking it up, that might be a little bit harder for some people to connect with this film if they don’t just wanna enjoy an hour and a half of Phil Tippit’s weird dark insanity.
Mad God Overall
Still, once you get a hold of what Mad God is doing, it’s a gloriously weird marvel of a movie that feels like a lost relic of another time and not just because it took decades to finish. It’s a display of insane creativity and talent that doesn’t often get to shine quite like this. It’s a shocking, original and weird piece of art that will linger in the brain for a while after viewing. Mad God is unlike anything you’ve seen before and it’s a miracle it got finished, and even more stunning that it ended up working as well as it did.