Title: Junk Head (Fantasia 2017)

Also known as:

Year: 2017

Genre: Science Fiction / Horror / Adventure / Comedy

Language: N/A

Runtime: 115 min

Director: Takahide Hori

Writer: Takahide Hori

IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6848928/

With what remains of mankind on the brink of destruction due to inability to reproduce, human volunteers are sent deep into a subterranean world that’s inhabited by rejected clones. There, humans believe the secret to their survival lies within the humanoids and the monsters that now exist, carrying traces of those original clones.

Our thoughts:
It may sound strange but because of all of the amazing animated films I caught at last year’s Fantasia International Film Festival, I have been more motivated to watch animation at festivals. So I was excited for this year’s Fantasia to see what they brought. Naturally I caught DADAshow’s newest film, “Senior Class”, and Ronny covered the beautiful “Cocolors”. Unfortunately for me, I only had time to catch one other animated film but it was for the highly anticipated “Junk Head” — an astonishing stop-motion feature.

A few years ago, Takahide Hori caught everyone’s attention with the short film “Junk Head” or as it’s also know as “Junk Head 1”. Created entirely by Hori himself, it was incredible piece of work (which took many years to complete) that presented a dystopian world where human clones have evolved into variety of creatures and humanoids that live in a subterranean world. That initial short was only 30-minutes long, and at this year’s Fantasia International Film Festival, Hori has returned with a 2-hour feature film version.

I did not see seen the original short prior to the feature film version but it worked out well enough for me as I eventually discovered the original short is the first 30-minutes of this new version. The feature length film picks upwhere the short left off without ever skipping a beat. That might not seem impressive because an animator has more control over their characters and environments. In my opinion, it’s still note worthy due to how seamlessly the pieces come together as a whole. You would never know that these two versions were made YEARS apart.

What’s also impressive is the world that Takahide Hori has created with “Junk Head”. Much like last year’s “Nova Seed”, how fully realized this story and these characters are is what instantly draws you in. It’s easy to be in awe of this odd world; these bizarre humanoid creatures that populate the subterranean domain with terrifying monsters that lurk around every corner. How Takahide Hori brings all of it together in this massive and overwhelming world is what will leave a viewer with their mouth agape. There is a title crawl in the opening to help setup the story and fill in the gaps, but even if that wasn’t there, you would still become immersed in the film and it’s because Takahide knew the importance was in the details.

It’s a chaotic horrifying existence that has managed to find order; the humanoids and the monsters have somehow created functioning habitat that they co-exist in. The details that Takahide put into the characters, the environment, and the story — putting careful consideration into every corner of this film is what allows the world of “Junk Head” to feel real. No matter how absurd the basis for the idea is, you, the viewer, inherently believe in the film because it has a sense of reality. It feels lived in. Even where the monsters are concerned. These horrifying creatures don’t exist in this world just because — they have a sense of purpose. They are a part of life. They are necessary.

How Takahide was able to create and capture this world makes the film a remarkable feat in of itself. It’s especially commendable in that, while he built only small chunks of the locations at a time (for what was needed for a scene), you always have a sense of space and scope. “Junk Head” creates an atmosphere where it seems as if you trapped in the bottom of a pit. It is an overwhelming feeling of not knowing how you’ll escape because the top feels impossibly far away.

Even though Takahide Hori accomplished something great in creating the world of “Junk Head” with a wonderful atmosphere there is an issue with the story. The structure of the story exists well enough for the film’s purpose. It is, in essence, Homer’s “Odyssey”. A character’s journey on their return home and the various encounters they have with other characters and monsters — if we’re distilling the movie down to its simplest form. Because it is about the titular Junk Head and the experiences he has, the story has a tendency to meander. With a 2-hour runtime the story suffers the most as there’s less of a cohesive narrative but more of a collection of vignettes. Perhaps that was Takahide’s intention as the movie does feel like it could be broken up into a series of short films. However, if he were to break it up, the film’s ability to draw in a viewer just by the world alone would be lost because part of the immersion is due to the amount of time that you spend in it.

The issue I found with the story might not be a problem with other viewers because “Junk Head” is less about the narrative and more about the characters. How they make up this bizarre and terrifying world that hides both a great deal of humanity and beauty. Takahide Hori’s film was an incredibly mesmerizing viewing experience that should be commended for its creativity and the fact that there’s humor, horror, and heart set within this unbelievably strange world. “Junk Head” should also be revered for its technical achievements that were pulled off by the talents of one person.

Positive things:
- A full realized world that's easy to become immersed in.
- Beautiful character designs.
- Manages to be both amusing, heartfelt, and terrifying.
- While it wasn't my favorite film at the festival, parts of it have stayed with me. Such as the final moments of two characters.
Negative things:
- Has a tendency to feel like it's meandering.
- There isn't much of a conclusion. The movie just kind of...stops. I suspect it's because more is coming but the abrupt ending will undoubtedly be frustrating for audience members.

Gore: 1/5
Nudity: 0/5
Story: 4/5
Effects: 4/5
Comedy: 2/5

We watched this movie thanks to:
Fantasia International Film Festival 2017

Reviewed by:






Like us on Facebook

Best of 2017
"City of Rott: Streets of Rott" Press Release
Best of 2016
Best of 2015
Underrated Horror Movies That Aren't Underrated: A Halloween List
Howling: Halloween 2015
Amityville: Halloween 2015
A Stephen King Halloween for 2015
"Tales of the Dim" Press Release
Best of 2014
Full Moon Favorites
A '90s Halloween
Best of 2013
A Profane Preview
A Netflix Halloween for 2013
"German Angst" on Kickstarter
The Sexploitation/Erotica List
Ronny's Arthouse Films List #2
Best of 2012
Worst of 2012

Special Feature Archives

1. Okja
2. Lucky
3. 68 Kill
4. Prevenge
5. Shin Godzilla
6. Good Manners
7. Love and Other Cults
8. Get Out
9. It Comes At Night
10. November
Taken from Best of 2017

- Mondo Vision
- Second Run DVD