Animation Tidbits: Blackheads Review

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With the recent virus outbreak going around, multiple smaller filmmakers are getting the short stick if the festival they were planning on showing their film at was canceled. This is the current case with the South By Southwest cancellation. Multiple filmmakers who were able to get into the festival are now left in the cold, and if they want to try again at other festivals in the fall, they are dealing with the big studio award-season fodder.

It’s not a good year for smaller filmmakers, but if streaming services and critics can help out these hopeful filmmakers, then that would be stellar. That’s what I did. I put out on Twitter that any animation individuals were showing a film or short film at South By Southwest, I would be happy to help with reviews for their films, and an animation filmmaker got in contact with me. So, with all that said, I was able to see this short before its March 15-16th release on Vimeo, but that was all the access I was given. Anyway, this is my quickie review of Blackheads by director Emily Ann Hoffman.

The story follows a young woman named Sofia, voiced by Chet Siegel. She is currently dealing with the stress of being in a relationship that just ended with a guy named Mars, voiced by Doug Goldring. While talking to her therapist Dr. Blady, voiced by Robin Brenner, she looks back on the relationship and other sporadic thoughts while also dealing with a blackhead on her nose.

So, this short is a mix of drama, fourth-wall-breaking meta narrating, and subtle comedy about relationships and identity. Dealing with a breakup is tough, and it makes you look at yourself wondering what happened and what may or may not have caused the breakup. Oh, and it also has a little conversation about popping zits. It’s a fairly substance-filled short, as you watch Sofia try to talk to her therapist about the situation, but is constantly thwarted by Blady’s thoughts about relationships and the role of men and women. It’s also creative with how they tie in the whole popping zits thing with the relationship and the thoughts from both the therapist and our lead character. You would think it would be gross, but there is a lot to take away from it, including the fact that the act of popping a zit is destructive, but it’s also a way to start clean and to get rid of what might be built up inside of you.

I dig the animation as it mixes stop-motion, 2D animation, and 2D elements within the stop-motion. I adore seeing the faces and eyes being hand-animated on top of the stop-motion dolls, as it gives it a spike of personality that makes it stand out from the other shorts that I have seen this year.

My only complaint is that I wish the short was longer. Due to the short runtime, I was surprised when it ended, because my mind was engrossed in the story and Sofia’s situation. It would have also given more of the themes and ideas time to flesh themselves out. However, if I’m only complaining about wanting more, that’s a good thing! In general, I enjoyed Blackheads, and I hope this short can get some traction and support. It’s unique in its animation, it’s funny, intimate, and personal. If you can see it, please check it out!