Oink Review: An Adorable, Roald Dahl-Inspired Stop-Motion Film About A Girl And Her Pig [Fantastic Fest]

"Oink" is an adorable, quirkly, colorful stop-motion animated film about a girl and her pet pig. This is a Roald Dahl-inspired movie that harbors some unsettling imagery before exploding into an all-out hellish chase.

Stop-motion is a rather unique medium. As one of the oldest filmmaking techniques, it is in the unique position to make any story just a little bit brighter and more fantastical. Plus, the amount of time required to make stop-motion animation adds a certain level of extra care to making these worlds feel heightened, even better than our own. At the same time, because the medium deals with lifeless objects being moved by outside forces, it also tends to feel eerie and a bit disturbing. This is why, while animation and horror don't tend to mix very well, the genre works wonderfully in stop-motion. Where horror in animation doesn't always land because the medium places a certain distance between the audience and the characters, stop-motion avoids this due to the fact that characters can often feel like a lifeless, often creepy, doll. No matter how cute a story, or how bright and colorful it is, stop-motion can't help but create a certain feeling of uneasiness at its core.

Al of this is to say that you shouldn't be completely fooled by the kid-friendly appearance of "Oink," the feature directorial debut by Mascha Halberstad. Sure, it stars a girl and her adorable little pig (can we give awards to non-real animal actors?), but "Oink" has more in common with a Roald Dahl adaptation (with a splash of George Miller) than claymation specials. The result is an adorable movie with a dark kick that eventually descends into absolute chaos and mayhem. Oh, and there are poop jokes, lots of poop jokes.

A sausage fest

During the local Sausage King contest 25 years ago, two butchers came to blows after a few rats' tails found their way into one of the butcher's sausages, which resulted in both competitors getting banned. But now there is a new contest, one to determine the Sausage King of the Century, and anticipations are high. 

"Oink" follows Babs, a nine-year-old who absolutely despises meat. One day, her estranged grandpa (one of the two disgraced butchers) mysteriously and conveniently arrives in town after living in the U.S. for years, and he decides to give her a piglet as a birthday gift. An innocent present, right? Nothing strange or convenient about it. She decides to raise the pig as a puppy. Babs doesn't mind that the cute creature just cannot stop pooping all over the house, nor does she notice all the comments her grandpa makes about the pig's weight or his delicious meat.

"Oink" is very much in the vein of the whimsical but darkly tinged stories of Roald Dahl, one that starts out cute enough, but quickly unveils something more sinister. There are many things that feel wrong but are regarded as normal in this world, from the insurmountable amount of poop everywhere, to strange games of shuffleboard that are played using slugs. Likewise, all the adults act a bit off, they cannot for the life of them get over past grievances, their entire personality is defined by grudges, and they always seem to have a nefarious scheme in their mind. This is a movie full of betrayal, trust issues, and of evil acts that start out with smiles before the knives come out.

As a stop-motion movie, this may not win any awards, but it still presents a bright world full of color, one with fantastic character designs you could imagine belonging in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" or "Matilda," complete with outlandish characteristics, clothing and facial features. And all this is before the film delves into a "Mad Max: Fury Road" style chase sequence. "Oink" is an adorable, comforting and heartwarming, but it's also a somewhat manic and bizarre stop-motion film that should be seen by both kids and adults looking for a spiritual successor to "Babe: Pig in the City."

/Film rating: 7 out of 10.