The latest animated short film masterpiece from Rocky Curby, HAPPY MEAL HORROR (with a side of chainsaw), tells the story of a robotic calf’s attempt to survive in a fast food slaughterhouse. After the calf is separated from its mother by the robotic, one-eyed butcher Earl, the calf goes out in search of its mother, only to be confronted with the ugly truth about its future.

It’s an intense four minutes for our animated calf, as much a horror film as it is a social commentary on fast food preparation and automation. Part Happy Meal from Hell and part Texas Chain Saw Massacre, as hinted at by the title (whose treatment is reminiscent of American Horror Story, as long as we’re looking at all the possible references and touchstones), it’s a brilliant bit of animated gore. Yes, gore. These robots bleed.

I’ve been intrigued by filmmaker Curby’s artistic style since seeing his previous short, Dark Vessel, and was equally impressed, if not more so, by this piece. Particularly because it’s a silent short film; there’s no exposition or spoken explanation. What you see explains it all, and what you ascribe to it fills in the rest of the space. The content challenges the audience while simultaneously allowing the audience to become part of the conversation. Or not. Indulge this one on whatever level or non-level you’d like, it still succeeds.

And at only four minutes! A short film that is actually short and still hits with such power, without dialogue or hand-holding. A triumph all around.

This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.

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  1. Shawn Mcguire says:

    As soon as I saw the floor, it was instantly recognizable from the shining. And the chainsaw robot’s red eye is Hal 9000. But I couldn’t spot any other references. The look of the animation has a very rich depth to it. Like it was drawn over live sets. Very cool!

  2. ed mace says:

    This is a very powerful concise film with many messages. Another Vimeo Staff Pick too!! Hats off to Rocky Curby! If you haven’t seen his Dark Vessel, check it out here: https://vimeo.com/54270509

  3. Did you catch the reference to Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining?”

    Pause this short film at 00:34, and look at the floor. Then click here:

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