It’s 1977 in the opening of Dark Vessel, and a robot is brutally murdered by a posse of other robots on the outskirts of Waxahachie, TX, near the town’s welcome sign. Prior to his death, however, our victim curses the others, stating that his shadow will remain after his passing, until another vessel comes along for him to use to enact his revenge. And after he dies, just as he warned, his shadow lingers on, frozen on the welcome sign.
Later on, a younger robot runs afoul of the same evil posse, as younger robot is trying to court the posse leader’s daughter. The gang takes him out to the sign, and tasks him with whitewashing over the shadow. Unfortunately for the gang, the appearance of our new hero winds up being the vessel for which our cursed shadow has been waiting.
Now, I keep saying robots, but these things bleed and die like humans do, so robots isn’t entirely accurate. They look like robots though, so that’s where my feeble mind is going while trying to explain things. Organic robots? Robot humanoids? Think Bender from Futurama with the capacity to bleed.
Rocky Curby’s short animated film does a great job of delivering unique characters, and the film is awesome with its use of dramatic lighting. I don’t even care if the lighting makes sense, or if shadows would be properly cast one way or the other, everything just looks so damn cool, and I love the animation style. This is a simple-in-narrative, complex-in-execution, supernatural revenge tale (that may be the precursor to either something heroic or horrific, should there be more films), told in a memorable and fun way, and I want to see more.
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