Directed by Jonathan Brooks
Starring Natalie Sexton, Lucy Mepsted, & Neil James
Short Film Review by Chris Olson
Vivid and heart-warming, Jonathan Brooks's animated short film Ghostboy is a marvellous achievement with some fantastic characters, comedy, and coming-of-age themes.
Alfie (Natalie Sexton) is a young boy going through that always turbulent event of moving to a new house. Troubled with countless unknowns, one of the major predicaments he faces is which room is to be his new fortress of solitude. After some minor exploring and finding numerous terrors occupying the rooms of the house, he comes across Ghostboy. The question is whether Ghostyboy is friend or foe.
Similar in story and style to Casper the Friendly Ghost, Brooks is playing with some familiar motifs here. However, his short film is completely endearing through its use of charming stop-motion and a script that is teeming with great, universal comedy. In particular Alfie's mum (Lucy Mepsted) is a delight to watch as her matriarchal duties consume her, her distraction allowing for Alfie to journey into the mysteries of the new house. Along the way our hero bumps into a spider and fly (both voiced by Neil James), who offer arguably the best scenes as the former torments our protagonist whilst the latter attempts to warn him, encouraging him to escape.
The score from Harry Kirby and sound design from Kirstie Howeel is rousing and tense, capturing the spooky nature of certain scenes and then revealing the vibrancy of youthful discovery in the next. This goes well with the animation which also has to balance these light and dark themes without ever forgetting its target audience. It is with great pleasure that I can report a job well done.
Fans of children's animation, especially to throwback stop-motion like Wallace and Gromit, or even newer stop-motion films which have been incredibly popular with audiences like Kubo and the Two Strings, will find a fantastic short film to explore in Ghostboy. There is an intelligence to the timing which is absolutely key in executing this kind of film. When you see the bit with the grandma on the stair-lift you will know what I mean.
It is everything an entertaining story needs to be; fun, funny and a little bit freaky.