The Clearing Image

The Clearing

By Alan Ng | December 5, 2022

In Daniel Robert Hope’s animated short, The Clearing, a husband/father must reestablish his role as the family’s leader soon after a poorly-timed affair.

Bill (Julian Barratt) is the father in question. In an attempt to re-woo his emotionally estranged wife, Deb (Julia Davis), he takes her and their son, George (Louis Vacula-Ashton), on a weekend fishing trip. Bill believes that by puffing up his ego and showing off his macho outdoorsmanship, he will surely return to Deb’s good graces. But, instead, he comes across as an even bigger baffoon.

What appears to be a simple family drama quickly takes a dark turn as Bill begins to experience hallucinations of the object of his lust. These very odd hallucinations, that only animation can bring justice to, take us to the dark recesses of human depravity.

“…a husband/father must reestablish his role as the family’s leader soon after a poorly-timed affair.”

The best part of The Clearing is how it pushes storytelling limits when it comes to the simple premise of a husband seeking forgiveness for the ultimate act of betrayal. The relationship between Bill and Deb is insightful. She has finally reached the point where she sees her husband as a pathetic worthless man left to live in his delusions. Soon, the story takes on a psychological horror tone leading to a deliciously outrageous ending.

The visuals are a throwback to the old Davey and Goliath days while giving us the more advanced smooth animation of Robot Chicken. Detail is everything when it comes to stop-motion animation. The production values of the sets are perfect, giving the right amount of detail to make you feel like you’re on a forest fishing trip. I’m not the biggest fan of the basic character designs, though that’s just my preference. The design of Bill’s obsession is downright creepy. Love it.

Ultimately, what won me over with The Clearing is its insight into the mind of a delusional man caught in an affair and Hope’s ability to translate that idea into an animated short. It’s a deceptively simple story that dives into the depths of humanity.

The Clearing (2022)

Directed and Written: Daniel Robert Hope

Starring: Julian Barratt, Julia Davis, Louis Vacula-Ashton, Charlotte Morgan, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

The Clearing Image

"…a deceptively simple story that dives into the depths of humanity."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join our Film Threat Newsletter

Newsletter Icon