By: April Shire
THE SPINE OF NIGHT is an action-packed tale of the horrors of magic, the rise and fall of civilizations, due to whose hands the magic is in, and what happens to those people holding it.
We are first introduced to Tzod (Lucy Lawless), the leader of the swamp people, and first wielder of the power that is referred to throughout the film as “the bloom.” Her people are attacked, and she is kidnaped during a ritual. This night forever changes who holds “the bloom,” and its power. She is taken by Mongrel (Joe Manganiello) to his ruler, Lord Pyrantin (Patton Oswalt), who wants to do away with her. However, because he is enthralled by her knowledge of magic, he allows her to live.
Tzod is also introduced to a scholar named Ghal-Sur (Jordan Douglas Smith). Tzod attacks Lord Pryrantin and assumes she has an ally in Ghal-Sur, but his quest proves to be power hungry like most who get a taste of ultimate power. In this animated feature, we are taken on the journey of what happened to "the bloom," after it left Tzod’s hands. She tells several stories through different times to The Guardian (Richard E Grant), who is protecting the last of "the bloom" from the rest of the world.
THE SPINE OF NIGHT had some breathtaking animation. Directors Morgan Galen King and Philip Gelatt did an excellent job of showing how ultimate power can cause nothing but chaos. I enjoyed how the animation was old school, and not full of CGI. Not that CGI animation doesn’t have its place, but old-school animation has the gritty feel that was needed to tell this magical tale. It took me back to some of the cartoons I watched as a kid, like He-man and ThunderCats.
THE SPINE OF NIGHT is reminiscent of 80’s animation, where you can see the expression lines of the characters, and the in-depth emotion each character is portraying. Lawless did not only a fabulous job in the role of Tzod the swamp witch, but also a beautiful job of narrating parts of the story. My only real problem with the movie is that it jumps from era to era, which sometimes makes it confusing to follow. I had to sit down and watch twice to make sure I was catching everything I needed to be taking in to understand what was happening to "the bloom."
Overall, if you’re into animation and want to see it mixed with action, horror, and fantasy, THE SPINE OF NIGHT is a movie for you. It’s a different type of horror film, packed with action, as in from opening credits to the end, there is something wild happening. Animation, from characters to the star-filled sky, are stunning.
THE SPINE OF NIGHT is now streaming on Shudder!