This is a 3D animation, but I feel it needs to be mentioned.
The Backwater Gospel is, in the words of the team who made it, “an animated short about a small, isolated community in the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s, a minister hell-bent on ruling his flock and an undertaker who always precedes death”. Even with it being a 3D work, I can envision it working in the more conventional two dimensional medium just as well.
I won’t spoil the plot, but will say it is an incredibly thrilling and at times disturbing short, with, in my interpretation, a deep and timeless moral to the story that can be easily overlooked by the viewer due to the nature of the animation.
Visually, it is a complex and vivid piece, the style being sharp and nicely contrasted, jumping back and forth from warm tones to cool ones, as well as vivid and exciting colour palettes, to dull and muted ones. The changes, carefully calculated and planned, add a great deal of adrenaline-fueled excitement to the world being animated, as well as an equal measure of uncertainty and nervousness, mirroring the bizarre nature of the story perfectly.
As dark as the plot was, I greatly admire the way it was handled. There is some extreme violence, and it is very stylish; however, as beautiful as it is visually, it is just as deplorable and wretched in the context of the animation- I respect that the creators did not dismiss it as ‘puerile’ in the writing stages, stuck with it, and presented it in a way that to the viewer is as discomforting as it is attention-grabbing. The plot itself, is not a pleasant one either, but what I said above applies here, too. The villain is an actual villain, and the forces of ‘good’ don’t have to prevail in the expected fairytale method that we are all too used to. As well as that, the animated short does not seem to be written purely for its shock value, but rather, with an underlying moral observation.
The sound is quite exquisite, too. Its design fits the animation very well, making a great job of strengthening the atmosphere constructed for this particular world.
What I took from this animated short the most was the way the, in the general viewer’s eyes, ‘risky’ subject matter was handled- it was done with grace in a lucid manner, without losing its visceral and chaotic flavour. As well as that, I think the visual style was also a major contributing point to why I liked it as much as I did.