Thirteen years worth of animated madness, stitched together to form a single stream of nightmare consciousness. With a wealth of unseen material as well as familiar classics and remastered, rejigged, reanimated nuggets.
After 13 years of developing animation in multiple mediums, David Firth (Salad Fingers) has collected his works and mashed them together into one singular piece. Umbilical World takes the highlights of Firth’s illustrious, disturbing digital animation career and patches them together into a pulsing, tumescent creation of extreme absurdity that is both bravely original, and painfully disjointed.
“…introduced to the absurdist format with what appears to be the birth of Firth’s seminal creation…”
Mixed with original bits of work, we are introduced to the absurdist format with what appears to be the birth of Firth’s seminal creation, a bit of Flash Animation known as Salad Fingers. Look it up if you don’t know it. It is weird, rudimentary, and strangely hypnotic in its use of ASMR and over-syllabic words. We see Salad Fingers’ conception, his growth into self-awareness, and his life in the flat, two-dimensional worlds of strange fetishes and umber tones.
The scenes then bleed, sometimes literally, into one another as we follow the animated creations of Firth spill across the screen like entrails on a sluice. A mix of 2D animation, stop motion, and digital mediums ad to the dreamlike unpredictability. In fact, what I can say is that there is no real synopsis, no clear narrative to Umbilical World. The only consistency is surrealism, exquisite sound design, body horror, beautiful animation, and images that will haunt you in your darkest hours.
“…surrealism, exquisite sound design, body horror, beautiful animation, and images that will haunt you in your darkest hours.”
To say this is Firth’s collection of his best work is to simplify, but make understandable, what Umbilical World is. This is Fantasia for the deranged. This is Heavy Metal for millennials (not a pejorative term). It is to force the non-linear stream of consciousness of a fever dream into a trackable timecode. It is all and none of this as it flips a bird to convention and trots off in its own vile direction.
I will not dare to say whether or not I see Umbilical World as a good film or a bad one. I will call it an impressive collection of daring animation and disturbing imagery that will haunt you for days, weeks if you are lucky. Firth’s ability to animate the uncomfortable and to play on the pretentious conventions of societal norms is remarkable. I personally love the hell out if it but this is not at all for everyone.
Umbilical World is what would happen if David Lynch and Terry Gilliam fucked in a back alley and shared their creation with the world. For the absurdist in me, I am ever so glad that they did.
Umbilical World (2018) Written and directed by David Firth. Starring David Firth, Paul MacKenzie, Christian Webb.
7 out of 10 stars