A Town Called Panic is a film that will leave you out of breath. With its dizzying pace and anarchic humour, this is something to brace yourself for. Created by Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar, this Belgian concoction easily fills its 75 minutes running time, and challenges you to keep up with its impulsive visuals and child-like hilarity.
Very few films achieve this level of bizarre genius. Every detail on screen bursts with vibrancy; it’s hard to look away for a moment, when things in the world of ‘Panic’ occur rapidly and randomly. The stop-motion animation style, alongside the use of familiar, cheap plastic toys as characters, lends the film its childish creativity and originality. It possesses an innocence which makes it all the more endearing and enjoyable. Though not aimed at children specifically, this film would happily suit most age ranges who can keep an open mind to its giddy glee.
The three principle characters are a plastic horse, cowboy and Indian. Their names are…Horse, Cowboy and Indian. Horse is a sensible father figure, whilst the other two are a kind of ADD comedy duo. The action begins when the latter two, remembering Horse’s birthday, frantically attempt to order 50 bricks to build a barbeque…and accidentally end up with 50 million. If you can accept that this is the start to the plot, then the rest of the film rolls along easily, loud and proud, with the heroic trio stumbling into all sorts of situations. These include falling to the centre of the earth, encountering mad scientists inside a giant penguin-robot, chasing some aquatic thieves, and kamikaze cows. Naturally.
Intriguingly, underneath this hyperactive exterior lies a tender and warm heart. The characters and the world they live in-despite all the surreal zaniness-are utterly endearing. In particular, shy Horse’s adoration of the local teacher Madame Longray, flows through the chaos to show an underlying elegance. Not one of the unusual array of characters fails to charm or amuse. Expect to encounter such individuals as Steven the farmer, who shouts everything he says, a disgruntled donkey and an ambivalent postie.
This is a film which resists analysis or negativity, and bursts to the brim with happy, infantile energy. You are guaranteed an original film with A Town Called Panic, and I would highly recommend it to anyone willing to enjoy a rare, original, and beautifully chaotic treat.
Overall rating: 8/10.
Review by Alice Porter.