Film review – Psiconautas, Los Niños Olvidados / Psychonauts, The Forgotten Children (Alberto Vázquez & Pedro Rivero, 2016)

Somewhere deep inside me was a sworded hope that maybe, just maybe, a family was in the screening of Psiconautas at Prince Charles Theatre and had a truly miserable time watching one of the most bizarre 75 minutes of cinema I have ever seen. Harsh, I know, but variety is the spice of life and Trolls 3D sold out weeks ago despite being in every cinema across the land in about two weeks.

Sorry.. what just happened?

The plotline is a difficult one to nail down. Based on a graphic novel by Alberto Vazquez, its origins lie in a 2011 short film titled Birdboy. After a short prologue, we are introduced to our two main protagonists. The aforementioned Birdboy is a fatherless creature who can only function whilst under the influence of drugs. His former girlfriend Dinki – a mouse – is trapped in a life ruled by her religion-mad mother, her father (who isn’t a mouse but wears a mouse mask) and a half-man-half-dog brother called Jonathan who his parents adore. She longs to escape with her two friends, but doing so proves to be not so easy when they live on a distopian hell island and are being hunted down by hilarious sentient alarm clocks.

They meet other characters along the way, from a panicked rubber duck to the titular tribe of forgotten children. There is a sense that Vázquez and Rivero are bursting with ideas and this bodes well for future works.

I’m so confused.

It is a wholly confusing experience that had no intentions of letting the audience expect the expected. There were moments of real hilarity and moments of true horror – a real rollercoaster of bemusement. The climax is nothing short of terrifying.

If you like your animation to be all warm and fuzzy then clearly this isn’t for you. But if you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to get trapped inside a Stanley Donwood nightmare then there could well be something here for you.

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