Directed by: #CharlesLuetje
Written by: #CharlesLuetje
“Are fandubs films?” I asked myself as I watched The Official Kobruh Fandub – the eccentric adventure from the mind of Charles Luetje. A fandub is a loosely defined term for an audio-focused story usually (but not exclusively) dubbed over pre-existing footage. In this instance the entire story is told through audio recording, with the only visuals being the text of the script, memes and emojis, and stock footage inserted to humorous, but ultimately frivolous effect. On first reaction, it seemed only right to judge this as you would an audiobook. Yet there is no way the same story could be told without the visuals – however minimal they may be. Therefore – it is a film. And it should be reviewed as one.
Kobruh is a genocidal maniac who has managed to take over the world with a giant robot and an army of snakes. With the power to turn people into more snakes, and brainwash anyone who stands in his way, all hope seems lost. But 6 companions set out on a mission to stop him. They are Isaac, Olive, Trollface, Sol, Deborah and Poggers Guy. Together, they embark on an epic quest to uncover Kobruh’s source of power, and free the world from tyranny.
Just a recapping the plot of The Official Kobruh Fandub should give a sense of how bizarre this story is. The vast majority of viewers will likely find it very hard to get on board with. Along with a plot that reads like a bad acid trip, the comedy and characters of the film rely heavily on references to internet culture that even the nerdiest of viewers might find hard to keep up with. Imagine that Abed from Community had full license to make his own movie, and you’ll picture something like this. It’s hard not to conclude that the target audience for this film is extremely narrow – to the point that it may have been made purely for the director’s own circle of friends. Therefore, recommending it to a wide array of viewers is difficult.
And yet, the imagination and passion put into this project is infectious and should be respected by anyone who cares about film. Without creative minds such as Charles Luetje, the cinematic landscape would be barren indeed. Despite a highly unconventional format and mindboggling script, viewers who dive into the project and embrace the insanity will be won over. Small target audience it may be, it will surely please those within it. A more visual retelling of the story of Kobruh would be a wild ride to embark on – at the very least it would be ‘so bad it’s great’ territory.
Special mention should be made to an impressive voicecast – Luetje included, who add life to the characters they portray. Each of the six friends, and their various adversaries and allies, feel unique and full in their own way – even Poggers Guy (Tushar Kotamraju) who is able only to say his own name in a Groot-like fashion. The story is proof that heart and emotion will always add more to a character than visual effects of CGI ever could – and you don’t even need a camera for the former.
The Official Kobruh Fandub is hard to recommend to most viewers. It is difficult to follow, highly targeted towards a niche audience and overly long. But the passion involved in making it is clear to see, with some genuinely innovative and funny moments throughout. Fandubs are unlikely to take over the world, but they deserve their seat at the table when it comes to storytelling.