SXSW FILM FESTIVAL 2021 REVIEW! Bára Anna Stejskalová’s Love Is Just A Death Away is a stop-motion animated movie that seems to be set in the junkyard from the stage show Cats after the apocalypse. Here, a worm has taken over the deceased, decaying body of a dog, and by controlling it, the worm attempts to make a meaningful connection with any other creature. But that is easier said than done as the animals around the pooch are either scared of it or die in a ridiculous manner.
Love Is Just A Death Away is Stejskalová’s cinematic debut as a writer and director, and she knocks it out of the park. The short, darkly comedic, oddly uplifting tale is entirely dialogue-free, not even interstitials, and everything is told through the visuals. The designs of the animals are charming in a macabre, Mike Mignola sort of way. The light blue of the worm stands out well against the reds and oranges of the junkyard. The animation is also of the highest quality, as the stop-motion creations move quite fluidly, and the audience buys into these creatures as real.
“…a worm has taken over the deceased, decaying body of a dog…”
The first-time filmmaker proves most adept at maintaining a constant tone, with the dark, morbid humor mixing elegantly with the heartwarming story at hand. The various deaths and other unpleasantries that befall the worm/dog or the animals in its vicinity are gruesome, but they are also genuinely hilarious. The movie earns its sweet, somewhat wholesome ending in a way that does not betray the grisly imagery that came in the preceding 11 minutes.
Love Is Just A Death Away will pull at one’s heartstrings while being delightfully ghastly. The animation is excellent, the music is fantastic, and the filmmaker ably balances the tone to great effect. This is a visual treat that one will not soon forget.
Love Is Just A Death Away screened at the 2021 SXSW Film Festival.
"…will pull at one's heartstrings while being delightfully ghastly."