Stopmotion (2024) Movie Review - Formulaic Horror with a Shiny Veneer

Horror | 93 Min
Cover from Shudder Original horror movie Stopmotion (2024)
  • Director: Robert Morgan
  • Actors: Aisling Franciosi, Stella Gonet, Caoilinn Springall, Tom York
  • Writers: Robert Morgan, Robin King
  • Producers: Alain de la Mata, Christopher Granier-Deferre
  • Country: United Kingdom
  • Language: English
  • Parental: Violence, Injury Detail, Gore, Body Horror, Language
  • Horror | 93 Min

A stop-motion animator struggles to control her demons after the loss of her overbearing mother.

Welcome to Knockout Horror. Today we are reviewing Robert Morgan’s feature length horror debut Stopmotion from 2024 (well, 2023 but we don’t count the festival circuit). Debuting on horror streaming service Shudder just a little while ago. Stopmotion has been cited by many as an example of Shudder’s improved offerings in 2024.

I mean, let’s be honest, Shudder has been pretty dire for awhile now. The average person could simply grab a month once or twice a year and see everything new that they have to offer. Their back catalogue isn’t all that impressive; especially when you have equally decent back catalogues on free services like Tubi. And their originals are, often, pretty awful. 

Is Shudder Better in 2024?

Late Night With The Devil and In a Violent Nature are recent additions to the Shudder catalogue. While they are both fantastic, I am seeing little to justify handing over your hard earned money to them. A few decent new movies a quarter is the very least you should expect. It is hardly enough to make up for the bulk of the catalogue which consists of movies you can find for free elsewhere and stuff so poor even YouTube channels like Terror films have more to offer.

Stopmotion is one of Shudder’s most recent originals and people have been raving about it. Well, I say people. What I really mean is critics and small sections of the horror community. Needless to say, I went into the movie excited. I am a massive stop motion fan and I couldn’t wait to see how it was implemented here.

Screenshot from Shudder Original horror movie Stopmotion (2024)

The story follows stop motion animator Ella Blake (Aisling Franciosi). Ella has been working for her overbearing, ailing, mother for some time. Acting as her animator as she directs the shots. After her mother suffers a stroke. Ella sets out into the world and begins working on her own stop motion film. A film that will consume her mind and become all too real.

Mmm Shiny

It is made very clear, almost immediately, that Stopmotion’s primary gimmick is the animation contained within. Unfortunately, and it pains me to say this as I was hyped up and ready to love this movie; outside of that gimmick there is little else on offer. For the most part, this is a standard horror movie with segments of stop motion animation spliced in here and there. 

Said animation deserves immense praise. It’s all pretty fantastic and acts as a shiny coating on an otherwise run-of-the-mill, bland as brown bread, horror movie. As mentioned earlier, I am a huge fan of stop motion as an art form. Stop motion holds a certain place in animation that I think few other mediums come close to. It’s fascinating and there is nothing else quite like it. Take the brilliant, visual feast, that is Coraline, for example.

Screenshot from Shudder Original horror movie Stopmotion (2024)

It also works particularly well for horror. The janky, uncanny, movement style that comes from the manipulation of physical models lends itself well to the medium. Stop motion looks kind of freaky, to put it bluntly. It has an almost inherent otherworldly quality about it and that is very much present here. The stop motion animation segments are the highlight of the film and, indeed, a horror highlight of 2024.

Skin Deep

And while these animation segments deserve special praise. Outside of them, this is a very bland and fairly dull horror movie that brings little else to the table. You could make the argument that the animation is enough to separate Stopmotion from its oh so familiar “descent into madness” horror movie compatriots. And, while I would be inclined to agree, it would be remiss of me to not point out the facts.

Screenshot from Shudder Original horror movie Stopmotion (2024)

This is the very same horror movie you have seen a million times before. A person becomes obsessed with something. Said obsession takes over their life. They start losing their mind and bad stuff happens. It is as vanilla as vanilla gets. Which is okay, some people like vanilla. But to lavish praise on a movie because of one specific factor is to offer potential viewers something that the movie can’t deliver on. 

Meandering 

This is a slow movie. Much slower than the snappy 90 minute runtime would suggest. I found myself in a loop of mentally drifting off while waiting for the next stop motion segment to start. Maybe I am not the best one to judge as my concentration levels are poor. But there was so little to cling onto outside of the movie’s titular gimmick. It is just bags and bags of dull, formulaic, personal drama.

Robert Morgan piles on the tropes throughout, as well. With the movie haphazardly skipping from one predictable moment to the next. We have everything here that you would expect in your average 2/5 rated horror movie. Jump scares, green and red tinged hallucinogenic drug trips, muffled audio to indicate disconnection, bone snapping visuals, an overly enthusiastic foley stage artist and fairly dull body horror complete with squelching noises and gore. It’s as if Morgan was given a horror trope checklist and made damn sure to check off every box.

Screenshot from Shudder Original horror movie Stopmotion (2024)

On top of that, the editing is extremely poor at times. Snap scene switches, that I assume are to indicate the decline of Ella’s mental health, feel poorly placed and almost accidental. Shots will flip jarringly with no transition creating a bit of a whiplash effect. Combine that with some weird pacing issues and continuity that suggests that Ella is the fastest stop motion animator of all time and it starts to feel a bit messy. There is a lot of overuse of certain techniques, as well. The muffled audio and blurred visuals are used so much that you may think you are going deaf-blind. 

Plenty of Positives 

There are things to shout about, here, though. The stop motion segments are, generally, fantastic. They remind me of segments from ABCs of Death for their presentation, length and animation style. Character design is fantastic and everyone looks suitably creepy. The animation is smooth and there are a decent number of these moments. My fiancée mentioned that the movie felt like an advertisement for a stop motion director’s work and I think that is true. If Stopmotion does nothing else but encourages people to check out Robert Morgan’s many shorts, that is a good thing.

Screenshot from Shudder Original horror movie Stopmotion (2024)

There are a few moments that are suitably creepy but horror vets will, potentially, find it all too familiar. There isn’t anything new outside of the stop motion, this is milquetoast horror. But that will likely be plenty to keep most people entertained. Camera work is nice enough and Stopmotion feels pretty high budget.

There are some decent horror visuals that work fairly well, buried in here. Aisling Franciosi is fantastic, for the most part. I also really enjoyed Caoilinn Springall as the precocious “little girl”. There are some great child actors emerging in horror, as of late. Some of the scenes that combine stop motion with live action are inventive and enjoyable, as well.

Should You Watch Stopmotion?

You should definitely watch Stopmotion purely for the amazing animation and Franciosi’s effective performance. I just didn’t feel like, outside of said animation, it brings much to horror, as a whole. The animated segments are fantastic but the live action segments are formulaic, predictable, and rather dull. This is just another “descent into madness” horror movie with an interesting gimmick. That will be more than enough for some but others will feel a bit short changed.

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