Raven’s Hollow is for the ones who love spooky folklore. An animated film, Raven’s Hollow takes place on Halloween night as two young lovers, Lisa (Stephanie Pax) and Mike (Travis Worthey), make out in the front seat of their car at the local drive-in. In the back seat is Lisa’s little brother Billy (Gavin Phillips), who’d rather go home and eat his candy than watch his sister lock lips with her boyfriend.
Frustrated Billy gets out of the car, and winds up in the middle of a cornfield, where Mike attempts to scare the boy by telling him about the town’s urban legend of an old farmer-turned-killer. According to Mike’s story, the three happen to be standing in the same cornfield the legend takes place in and, as chance would have it, this tale might not be a Halloween myth after all.
Raven’s Hollow’s story (co-written by Marc Packard) is great and full of potential, but its use of computer generated 3D animation slices the short’s appeal in half. It looks like the kind of animation used in computer games in the late ’90s – the period when animators began to make CG look a lot more like live-action, but still had a long road ahead of them. The result for this short is that it appears very dated; most of the time the characters lips don’t even move when they are speaking.
When the urban legend bit is being told, however, the animation switches to a more solid, hand-drawn 2D style, enhanced via computer, which grabs your full attention. This is the most attractive visual in this short, and it’s clear this is intended to stand-out, though maybe not in as detrimental a contrast to the rest of the film’s animation style.
With two different types of animation being used in the 11 minute short, it’s obvious director Colin Clarke has not just an affinity for this type of filmmaking, but also animation skill and a healthy respect for the form. Unfortunately, the stiff-and-dated-looking style of the computer-generated 3D really limits this film. Since the more traditional hand-drawn-looking segment is meant to stand out on its own regardless, Raven’s Hollow would have worked better as live-action, or with a more polished use of CG.
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