“I’m not good at describing my films,” a character named Mariusz proclaims to his dying mother in Mariusz Wilczynski’s phantasmagorical, autobiographical animated feature Kill It and Leave This Town. Mariusz, who happens to be voiced by the film’s director and co-writer, isn’t the only one who may have issues conveying the plot of this grimy acid trip down the most dismal of memory lanes.
An existential meditation on death and nostalgia that, despite its apparent crudeness, took the filmmaker 15 years to put together, Kill It and Leave This Town is comprised of a series of surreal, grotesque vignettes, dug from the dankest, rawest recesses of Wilczynski’s subconscious. These unfiltered images from his childhood in 1970s-era Poland sketched on creased paper are bound to linger in the caverns of your mind, should you allow them to be exposed.
“… involves a fairytale about an immigrant called Fiki Miki and his Donald Duck-like companion…”
And some will certainly dismiss Wilczynski’s film as too experimental and grim (both thematically and visually), too impenetrable, to succumb to its strange rhythm and otherworldly vibes. I, for one, was mesmerized by the sight of a fish, beaten and decapitated, helpless against its captor, the horrifying image then mirrored by the even more disturbing sight of sardine-like, mutilated human beings. Mariusz’s mother is portrayed as little more than a heap of heaving sticks, bound together by a red bow-tie, wheezing her last breaths.
Giant black crows walk their human pets. A demonic, anthropomorphic feline declares its commitment to doing evil but is evidently helpless against doing good. The city itself is comprised of factories emitting charcoal fumes, awkwardly-stacked houses, and the occasional flickering neon sign, signifying a life of decay. Not without its moments of lyricism, Kill It and Leave This Town reiterates the importance of human connection, most evident in the sequence of two characters dancing through a blood-red mise en scene. There’s even some semblance of levity in a sardonic interlude that involves a fairytale about an immigrant called Fiki Miki and his Donald Duck-like companion (an elderly couple on a train later morph into said duo).
Via animation, Wilczynski reduces the world to the size of a raindrop, makes us experience vertigo with the swaying of a lamp or the shifting of a boat, connects human brains to electrical wires that change into people clinging to tiny boats in a bathtub, and so on. It’s all deeply unsettling, a glorious massacre you can’t look away from. Kill It and Leave This Town dares you to avert its gaze. You may not be able to describe it, but good luck forgetting it.
"…deeply unsettling, a glorious massacre you can’t look away from."