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Wendell & Wild – TIFF 2022

Wendell & Wild

Wendell & Wild – TIFF 2022

Synopsis:
Two scheming demon brothers, Wendell and Wild, enlist the aid of 13-year-old Kat Elliot to summon them to the Land of the Living.

Two scheming demons seek the help of a 13-year-old girl to escape the underworld in . Wendell () and Wild () are two demon brothers relegated to grooming their father, Buffalo Belzer (), ruler of the Scream Faire. The demons get their chance to escape when Kat Elliot (), a 13-year-old boarding school student guilt-ridden over her parents' death, discovers that she is a Hellmaiden who has the power to summon demons. Kat agrees to summon Wendell and Wild if they agree to resurrect her parents. However, such deals have consequences.

Wendell & Wild is the latest film from stop-motion master Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline), produced in collaboration with co-writer and producer Jordon Peele. Peele reteams with his Key and Peele co-star Keegan-Michael Key to voice the titular demons Wendell and Wild. However, the film's true protagonist is Kat Elliot, who has just enrolled at the Rust Bank Catholic School for Girls after spending years in foster care. She befriends Raul () and receives guidance from Sister Helley (). However, the school's headmaster Father Best (), has been making shady dealings with Irmgard and Lane Kaxon (Maxine Peake and David Harewood), who plan on replacing RBC School with a new prison.

Thirteen years ago, Henry Selick helped launch Laika Animation Studio with 2009's Coraline, his first fully stop-motion film made outside the Disney umbrella and was a genuinely terrifying mix of fantasy and horror. After a lengthy hiatus, Selick returns with this Netflix production, collaborating with Jordon Peele to create this stop-motion horror-comedy.

Wendell & Wild probably isn't as nightmare-inducing as Coraline. However, it still ends up being a fun supernatural adventure appropriate for all ages while featuring some thrills and chills. The film features a unique design for the stop-motion puppets that accentuates the angles. In addition, the titular characters of Wendell and Wild are modelled after Keegan-Michael Key and Jordon Peele, respectively, with their banter being a significant element of the film. In addition to Key and Peele, Wendell & Wild has a highly diverse voice cast that includes Lyric Ross, Angela Bassett, James Hong, Tamara Smart, and Ving Rhames.

While Wendell & Wild is not a stop-motion masterpiece in the same vein as The Nightmare Before Christmas or Coraline, the film still marks a solid return for Henry Selick, though ultimately, the film can be viewed more as a Jordon Peele vehicle. Overall, Wendell & Wild is a spooky good time, facial seems and all.

Trailer for Wendell & Wild – TIFF 2022

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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