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The Weird Kidz (2022) BHFF Review

When I reviewed Batman and Superman: Battle of the Super Sons I lamented that hand animation would soon be gone from mainstream animation. When that happens, The Weird Kidz is the kind of project where it will still be found. Written and directed by Zach Passero who also animated it over a period of eight years while working as an editor (Old Man, Camera Obscura). Like Phil Tippett’s Mad God, it’s the kind of passion project where traditional methods live on.

Three friends, Dug (Tess Passero, The Big, Weird Normal, Mi burro: esos huesos), Mel (Glenn Bolton) and Fatt (Brian Ceely, Brothers James: Retribution, Paranoid Flux) take a weekend camping trip along with Dug’s older brother Wyatt (Ellar Coltrane, The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot, Shoplifters of the World) and his girlfriend Mary (Sydney Wharton).

A stop at a convenience store gets them a warning from the store’s owner Duana (Angela Bettis, May, Ghosts of the Ozarks) to watch out for the creature known as The Night Child. But that isn’t going to stop them, although it probably should.

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The Weird Kidz starts out with the three friends clustered around Gug Dug, a clone of the Dig Dug arcade game, establishing the film’s 80s setting and the film’s tone definitely takes some cues from that. It’s something of a cross between a raunchy coming-of-age comedy and a horror film. There are jokes about buying condoms, stealing beer, an attempt to spy on Wyatt and Mary having sex ends up with the tent getting set on fire, etc.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what made me want to set forth on this crazy undertaking. The story for the Kidz’ adventure started forming when my wife and creating partner, Hannah, got pregnant with our first child. I began to imagine explaining to our new little one what things were like when I grew up.

Zach Passero

But once the ant-like Night Child and its hallucinogenic venom make their entrance The Weird Kidz becomes a trippy creature feature. Dug, Wyatt and Mel’s dog end up trying to escape the creature’s lair while under the influence as the others try to find help.

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Interestingly, the creature, despite its plans to have the leads for dinner, isn’t the worst thing in the film. There’s an evil Sherif (Sean Bridgers, Jug Face, The Woman) and a cult that worships the creature and offers it sacrifices. This actually feels more like it came out of a 70s film like The Devil’s Rain crossed with Empire of the Ants. If The Weird Kidz was live-action it would feel like something you have hazy memories of seeing at the drive-in.

The animation is, as you might expect from a feature animated by just two people, Passero and his wife Hannah, of a rather limited nature. Despite some very static backgrounds and an overall lack of detail, The Weird Kidz is still miles ahead of those so-called motion comics or low-end studio releases such as Night of the Animated Dead. It’s more on the level of a show you might find running late nights on a basic cable channel.

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Despite relying a bit heavily on crude jokes, animated nudity and scenes of the pre-teen trio drinking and smoking to establish its non-PC status at the beginning, The Weird Kidz eventually develops a bit of maturity and even manages a couple of unexpectedly touching moments. The Passeros put eight years into this film, and it was time well spent.

The Weird Kidz made its premiere at this year’s Brooklyn Horror Film Festival. You can check the film’s Facebook page for future festival screenings and/or release plans. And while you wait for its release, FilmTagger can suggest some other animated films.

Our Score
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