Reviewbr> "There's no road cone out here Eddie" - Kevin
Eddie and Kevin work the late shift at the Happy Happy Gas Gas station, which doesn't look to be situated anywhere in downtown Auckland. Actually if I had to make a guess it would be in Arizona somewhere, but hey I haven't been to South Auckland so who knows. The only trouble on the horizon is a cross dressing teapot and a cat that thinks he is a vampire or a killer. So normal late night shift shenanigans then, except without the drunks.
Unfortunately for Eddie and Kevin there's someone else prowling the customer free station, someone with a few problems, someone with a honking big knife who isn't afraid to use it. What would you do if you came face to face with Mickey Myers on vacation? Eddie and Kevin are just about to learn the meaning behind the Chinese curse, "may you live in interesting times".
If you were to mix a typical 1980s serial killer outing with a Nickelodeon cartoon then you would have Dead End Job, an animated short that mixes some humour with a dash of red raw carnage. The crew at Mukpuddy, an Auckland based animation studio, created the short for the 48 hours competition that runs each year in Kiwiland, and had quite the success with the film. It won Best Film Auckland City Final, Best Animation Auckland City Final, and the icing on the cake Best Animation National Grand Final. So we can pretty much place money on Dead End Job being the best animated short to come out of New Zealand in 2014. The question to the forefront of everyone's queue is no doubt does it live up to the hype? I'm going to state categorically that it does, let's get down and dirty with the short.
First up the animation is top notch, I was digging the simplistic frames and the character creations. There's a lot of talent gone into making the visuals stunningly pleasing, animation fans are going to be right across this aspect of the short. I was reminded of about every Nickelodeon toon I've ever watched, hey I'm not going to discount any media in an attempt to cover pop culture, and would say the team at Mukpuddy match the best of breed. Be warned, you are not going to encounter anything that redefines the medium, but then that wasn't the purpose of the film.
Must admit I was also grooving to the script, lots of pretty bad jokes going down, but since that was the intention I'm not going to complain. I'm willing to lay good odds that most punters are going to especially enjoy the Morgan character, who pops up seemingly at random with weird dialogue but who fits into the overall plot in a surprising fashion. Nothing is being wasted in the five or so minutes the movie runs, tight and taunt scripting adds to the overall excellence on display.
Okay the horror element gives a pretty big nod to the 1980s slasher cycle; though I guess Dead End Job would fit more into the backwoods massacre style of outing. I got a Psycho vibe from the short though the Writer looks to have also spent some quality time with John Carpenter's Halloween. There are classic horror tropes oozing from every frame which should bring a smile to your dial. Be warned however there's a fair amount of gore on display, in a colourful animated toon way. We get amputated legs, guts spewing out, and someone going up in flames. Jason Voorhees no doubt avidly watches this one for ideas on dealing with the next batch of camp counsellors unlucky enough to work out at the lake. Gnarly deaths going down as the kids used to say.
While the movie is animated, i.e. no actors as such, word needs to go out to Ryan Cooper who voices all the characters. Excellent job giving each individual character their own personality traits and motivations, which is a job of work over 5 or so minutes. I was grooving to the voice work, though maybe a female character or two would avoid the femnazi element getting all upset with things being all sausage orientated. Yeah, nay, the crew cut brigade probably don't take time out of their busy schedule of being angry to watch short movies. Cooper does voice a cross gender character if that's any help, though the character gets harshly dealt with, which to my mind is justified given the whole wig situation. Jeez this paragraph is rambling like your demented grandmother dribbling into her boiled egg, hey good work by Cooper on the vocals, moving along.
Ben Sinclair added the score which rocked the house down. We're talking some standard horror/thriller orchestral movements that brought a smile to my face; added topping for those in need is Halloween style rifts. Interestingly, in the context of horror tropes, the Directors use the score effectively for a few false scares; talk about throwing a cat out of a cupboard, Dead End Job redefines the standards. I would actually like to see Sinclair score a full length slasher/comedy feature; I reckon he would kick a major with that one.
Guess I'm about finished with this one, though I did dig the site gags littered throughout the short, "Extra small for her disappointment". Dead End Job is one of those shorts you watch any number of times and pick up additional details on subsequent viewings. For example I didn't notice the traffic cone in the first few frames till about the third viewing, nice subtle placement of plot foreshadowing for those interested.
So are there any faults with the movie? I didn't pick up on any, some viewers might, hey knock yourself out there kids. It's pretty hard to produce even a short with zero issues but I'm going to state the team at Mukpuddy have achieved that, hence no doubt all the awards the short has received.
So I had a lot of fun with Dead End Job, nice pun in the title by the way, and have zero problems with recommending the short to anyone reading. In five minutes the crew here achieve more than most full length movies shambling out of the dark genre manage in their entire running time. Guess Mukpuddy are putting the bite back into toons, the Nick should hire these guys to do a full 12 episode season of shorts sending up various horror sub-genres. You can view the short below, assuming we haven't stuffed up the YouTube link, or head on over to YouTube itself and check out Mukpuddy's video channel, or to see more top notch animated shorts set your browser to Mukpuddy central. Okay I'm off to check out the zombie short the guys have made, do yourself a favour and watch Dead End Job, it'll knock your socks off.