|The Weird Kidz
"Ever since I finished The Weird kidz, I've been in a state of shock. My nearly ten-year journey with this film (creation, script writing, voice recording, animation, animation, animation) has come to an end; and quite honestly... I don't know what to do with myself. I can't believe I'm here, about to share The Weird Kidz with the public. "Zach Passero
Zach Passero's first animated feature, The Weird Kidz, has finally arrived after ten years of hard work. Zach Passero not only wrote the film, but also animated it himself, demonstrating his passion and commitment to creating a unique cinematic experience. This animated horror film pays homage to the mature films of the '80s and the beloved stories of late-night cinema, resulting in a nostalgic yet fresh and inventive story.
The film centers on three 12-year-old friends, Dug, Fatt and Mel, who find themselves on the cusp of adolescence in the new town of Black Bird. Their innocent adventures include a pet dog, fireworks and a BB gun, but they are gradually drawn into the complexities of growing up. Uncertain Fatt, aspiring cartoonist Mel and creative Dug each have their own dreams and challenges. Dug, particularly passionate about video games, begins the story by fixating on a classic arcade game, Dug Dug, which becomes the symbol of his own identity and journey.
The Weird Kidz takes place in a small, close-knit community that hides a dark secret. As the boys go camping with Dug's older brother Wyatt and his girlfriend Mary, they discover local legends about a creature known as The Night Child. Soon, their adventure takes a terrifying turn when they confront the creature themselves. The film cleverly blends elements of adventure, coming-of-age, urban legend and horror, all wrapped up in animation that captures the essence of '80s arcade games and late-night movies.
The animation style of The Weird Kidz adds to its nostalgic appeal, evoking the simplicity of classic video games and old-school animation. The characters embark on a variety of missions, reminiscent of video game challenges, as they make their way through an increasingly bizarre and dangerous night. The film's soundtrack, with its synthesizer tracks, contributes to the overall retro atmosphere, transporting viewers back to a time when such elements were the hallmark of entertainment.
Character dynamics play an important role in the film's success. The boys' friendships are put to the test, and their individual growth and struggles are beautifully portrayed. The presence of Grumbles, the loyal and protective pet dog, adds heartwarming moments, illustrating loyalty and friendship beyond human relationships. The voice acting, though awkward at first, adapts to the audience, reinforcing the characters' sympathy and endearing qualities.
Despite the film's nostalgic roots, The Weird Kidz isn't just a trip down memory lane; it tackles themes of abandonment, insecurity and alienation that resonate with viewers of all ages. The characters learn to respect themselves and others, and grow through their shared experience. The film also deftly explores the concept of facing one's demons and embracing one's individuality, themes that remain relevant across generations.
Passero's dedication shines through in every frame of The Weird Kidz. The film's animation may seem simple at first glance, but its complexity lies in the attention to detail, character development and emotional depth of the storytelling. The result is a charming, engaging and sometimes trippy adventure that captures the essence of small-town childhood and the camaraderie shared between friends.
The Weird Kidz is a delightful gem of horrific animation that pays homage to 80s nostalgia while offering a fresh, inventive and emotional story. The mix of adventure, horror, humor and heartwarming moments creates a unique visual experience that will appeal to fans of classic coming-of-age films and those looking for a fresh approach to the genre. Zach Passero's eight-year dedication to bringing his vision to life shines through in this labor of love that invites audiences to look back on his own formative years and embrace the weirdness within.
The Weird kidz
Written and directed by Zach Passero
Produced by Charles Horak, Lucky McKee
Starring Sean Bridgers, Angela Bettis, Ellar Coltrane, Sydney Wharton, Tess Passero, Glenn Bolton, Brian Ceely
Music by Sean Spillane
Running time : 80 minutes
Viewed August 18, 2023 (Frightfest press screener)