Now this is a SXSW film. All the ingredients are in place to make Philip Gelatt and Morgan Galen King’s “The Spine of Night” the next great cult hit to come out of the festival: it’s an ultra-violent (great) rotoscoped fantasy (very cool) featuring the voice work of no less than Richard E. Grant and Lucy Lawless (sold). Premiering at next week’s virtual SXSW Film Festival, “The Spine of Night” looks like the sort of special festival find people would chatter about after a particularly wild midnight screening, but now film fans can watch it in the safety of their own homes. (Safety for its characters, however, is not at all guaranteed.)
Billed as a “hand-rotoscoped epic fantasy inspired by the cult classic works of animators Ralph Bakshi and Frank Franzetta,” the film “is set in a fantasy land ripe with magic and intrigue where a dark force is unleashed sending mankind into an age of ruin. It falls on heroes from different eras and cultures to fight back.” The film stars Grant and Lawless alongside Patton Oswalt, Betty Gabriel, Joe Manganiello, Abby Savage, Larry Fessenden, and Rob McClure.
As IndieWire’s Eric Kohn wrote in our preview of the festival’s offerings: “the visually dazzling story revolves around a mystical plant that destroys the planet, as the man who uncovered its power lords over a broken world. The ‘ultra-violent’ movie is said to include plenty of wild magical twists and grisly showdowns made all the more involving for the graphic nature of its storytelling. It’s exactly the kind of DIY technology and brazen artistry that SXSW loves to support.”
The film’s first teaser trailer offers plenty of intriguing visuals, a number of lopped-off limbs, and only the slimmest of spoken words (beyond grunting and chanting, the first-look features only one line, and it’s the kind of foreboding warning we’re thinking won’t be heeded in the film). Check out the first trailer for “The Spine of Night,” available only on IndieWire, below. The film will premiere at SXSW next week, and you can learn more about how to view the online festival right here.