Review: Wendell & Wild

This film review does include spoilers.


Wendell and Wild was released on Netflix on Oct. 28 and has a run time of one hour and forty-five minutes.

Ethan Anderson, Senior Reporter

Wendel & Wild, a stop motion comedic horror film directed by Henry Selick, was recently released to Netflix on Oct. 28.

Kat Elliot lived in Rust Bank before her parents died. Years later, she blames herself for their death and grows up to be a teenage delinquent. She gets sent to an all-girls catholic school in her hometown for a second chance. She meets Siobhan, the preppy daughter of the Klaxons. Klaxon is the owner of Klaxon Korpa, a private prison company trying to take over the town. She also meets Raul, who used to be friends with Siobhan. 

Meanwhile, Wendel and Wild live in the underworld with their father, Buffalo Belzer, dreaming of creating an amusement park for the dead. 

One day, Kat receives a mark on her hand during a class taught by Sister Helley, who tells her to hide it. The mark tells Wendel and Wild that Kat is their Hell Maiden, with the ability to summon demons. They appear to her in a dream and promise to raise her parents back to life if she summons them.

Father Best, the head of the catholic school, is killed by the Klaxons since he is the last witness of their factory fire. After his funeral, Kat and Raul summon Wendel and Wild. They appear elsewhere in the graveyard, so Kat assumes the summoning failed. Wendel and Wild discovered Buffalo Belzer’s hair cream could resurrect the dead, so they decided to test it on Father Best. 

It works, so Father Best convinces the Klaxons to pay him in exchange for reviving the dead members of the town council. They force Raul to help dig up the graves, who later steals the cream and revives Kat’s parents. Together, they try to stop the Klaxons.

This film combines Director Henry Selick’s iconic animation style with Screenwriter Jordan Peele’s horror writing. Selick also directed The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline and worked on Fantastic Mr. Fox. He brought the same iconic animation style to Wendel & Wild with a few key differences.

For stop-motion animated characters to portray emotions, animators will use replacement faces. These faces leave visible seams that are almost always edited in post. Selick decided to keep them instead, adding to the film’s unique style. He also animated at a framerate lower than the industry standard, giving the movements a rougher and more dynamic look.

“I felt like stop-motion–especially the work of Laika, where I made Coraline–I felt it had gotten so slick and perfect that there was no difference between it and CG,” Selick said in an interview with Befores and Afters

Raul, one of the main characters in Wendel & Wild, is a trans boy, the first to feature in a stop-motion animated film. His identity is mentioned and influences how he interacts with the world, but it is only one facet of his character. It is an excellent example of how to include trans characters in the film.

Overall, Wendel & Wild is a great film that pushes the limits of animation and the types of stories we see on screen.