Quick overview for the uninitiated (like I was last year): A bunch of interconnected shorts adding up to feature length telling the story of brothers Wirt and Greg wandering some sort of fantastical woods in late autumn. Lots of inspired spookiness, huge variety of creatures and styles, lovely painted backgrounds, and one of the best fall-decay vibes of any piece of art I’ve ever seen. Just go see it if you haven’t.
My reaction this time around, semi-spoilery:
I loved it even more this year than last. Its sprawling autumnal tones and early/mid-century influences make every frame a treat; I found lots I didn’t notice the first time. And there’s lots of foreshadowing to plot points that I didn’t pick up the first time through.
Greg’s random silliness stuck out to me less this time around, in part because I was prepared for it and in part because I could better see its thematic purpose in providing tension between him and Wirt. I also felt less disappointed by the inclusion and connection to the “real world,” as I appreciated the way it amplified the deathly/decaying feeling of the woods.
It wraps up in such a satisfying manner that it almost made me want to loop back and start again right away. (Though I still think Greg should have named the frog The Beast.)
The episodes still feel quite short but I’ve come around on the length. I’m not sure many of these premises could sustain much more screen time (though a few certainly could).
My two favorite episodes remain “Into the Unknown” (clarinets and poetry) and “The Ringing of the Bell” (Auntie Whispers!).
Jason Funderburker’s oft-repeated name and frog voice will never not make me laugh.
Exceptionally Good (7/8)
Note: This review was originally published elsewhere. Please excuse brevity or inconsistencies in style. If you have questions or feedback, please leave a comment or contact me.