Allison Schulnik’s 2014 claymation and stop-motion film Eager is a bizarre dance of the beautifully macabre. At 8 minutes and 30 seconds, it is her longest film to date — and perhaps her darkest, portraying a peaceful, ritualistic world that spirals in and out of violent, psychedelic chaos. The story begins in an opaque, supernatural world, devoid of light, before the viewer is guided into the heart of a strange forest. Traversing these unpredictable landscapes is a cast of misfits: the multiplying, skeletal specters, who open the film with their haunting, synchronized dance; flowers with faces that pulsate and transmogrify into mouths, labia, and cavernous expressions of joy and despair; and the eyeless, fleshy horse, with his lolling tongue and genitalia, who plods along with an almost human ungainliness.
What makes the film so stunning and dark — aside from the endearing absurdity of its characters — is how quickly and easily the world of Eager oscillates between compassion and cruelty. Take the skeletal specters, for instance, who, after completing their ritual, eviscerate each other and don the bloody skins like cloaks. The flowers, too, live in a world of beauty and menace, as they dance and devour each other. Despite the darkness, Schulnik’s treatment of her “monsters” is based in love and fascination; as she said in an interview with Beautiful/Decay in 2012,
“I’m drawn to these characters, for some reason. There’s something about the sad or pathetic kind of character that I like. There’s something sad about them, yet […] it’s comforting to know that [they are] maybe not real.”
In Schulnik’s surreal and metamorphosing universe, she has created a vast creative space wherein she explores the vicissitudes of life, and furthermore, celebrates the heart-wrenching beauty of what is normally seen as “dark,” “forlorn,” or “rejected.”
Schulnik also works in other mediums; her paintings, seen here, reflect the layered, whirling, and melting style of her claymation. Check out her webpage for links to her other films. And, as it has been advised, make sure you turn the lights down and the volume up as you experience Eager. More stills from the film after the jump. (Via Juxtapoz)