Alma (short film)
Made in: USA
Director: Rodrigo Blaas
Year: 2009

Synopsis: Former Pixar animator Rodrigo Blaas directs this short, computer animated film. It's about a young girl (the title character), whom we see walking through a town on a snowy day. She sees a chalkboard, writes her name on it...then weird things start to happen.

In the shop window across the street, Alma sees a doll on display that looks exactly like her. She goes up to the window, but then the doll somehow vanishes. Then, she notices that it reappears somewhere else inside the store, where there are many other dolls stacked along shelves, stands, and chairs.

She tries to enter the shop, but the door is locked. Just as she's about to give up and leave, the door opens by itself. Her curiosity still piqued, she enters the store...where the creepy doll is waiting.

And it is no coincidence that her name means "soul" in Spanish...

Remarks: Director Rodrigo Blaas tells a simple and effective (and arguably disturbing) story based on the common fear of creepy dolls that many of us have.

What stands out is that the whole thing starts out with familiar Pixar-like cheeriness, making us believe that this is going to be a cute, witty little story. This bit of clever misdirection only makes the story's dark turn that much scarier.

The animation is as detailed and visually stunning as anything you've seen in a Pixar movie, and the storytelling is purely visual (no dialogue).

I thought the film could have been expanded a little more, as there are some fantastical elements worth exploring. But you can watch the short film on this page in its entirety (or here) to judge for yourself.

Who would like this movie: This one's for you if you like Pixar-animated movies, short films, dark fairy tales, and scary f*cked up sh*t in general. The creepy doll theme definitely works, and I heard that Dreamworks Animation is developing a feature-length version with Blaas set to direct and Guillermo del Toro as producer.

Great. More nightmares. Just what the world needs.

(3 stars out of 4)

Review written by: Joe Yang 

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