Mad God (2022) Is Mad Good
Title: Mad God
First Non-Festival Release: June 16, 2022 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Phil Tippett
Writer: Phil Tippett
Runtime: 83 Minutes
Starring: Alex Cox, Niketa Roman, Satish Ratakonda
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
An Assassin lands a transport shuttle in a desolate, crumbling city with a mission to destroy it from the inside. Once landed, he encounters a menagerie of twisted creatures and tortured souls fighting to survive in the cruel landscape. Unencumbered by his sights, the Assassin presses onward into the city to realize his quest. As the cityscape shows more of its secrets, the deadlier it becomes to the one person attempting to annihilate it.
Mad God is a mesmerizing and haunting journey into terror propped up by extraordinary visual effects and directorial feats.
The world building in Mad God is told primarily through its visuals. Much is learned about the story without it needing to be spoken. Much like a silent film, without the intertitles, Mad God relies on strong visual cues to ensure its message gets across. This comes to be in the human hesitation in the Assassin’s actions when confronted with a room full of experiments, the uncertainty in the Nurse’s body language when she gives up the baby to the demon, and so many more powerful moments. It is rather light on story due to its stop motion constraints, but that doesn’t stop it from packing a punch all the same.
Phil Tippett is much like his creation: a Mad God. It cannot go without saying that Tippett is responsible for keeping Mad God alive. A passion project thirty years in the making, it looks as cool as it sounds. All cylinders are firing optimally here and no detail is left incomplete. Set design, cinematography, audio engineering, everything is, as the kids say, straight fire! An insanely innovative and tight film, Mad God will leave you breathless and hypnotized by its unique world.
While few characters are given official names, much less speak, the personalities and experiences of all come forth in many ways. The Assassin is the easiest to relate to as he breathes in the experience much like the viewers. Focused, calculating, and efficient, his task to detonate the device meant to destroy the city is unfettered only by his determination to evade capture or death from the various creatures. Of which, they also exude ferociously distinct traits. Some are bumbling, only catching a break when other creatures accidentally slip. Others are more conniving, coldly killing others to sustain themselves. Even still, some are bereft of personality, unnervingly calm and passive drones working within a system that has no qualms about killing or maiming them, even accidentally. It’s not only the variety in their looks that captivates, but their entire being that makes Mad God so good.
What separates Mad God from the scores of horror films released every year is its jaw-dropping visuals. Unmatched in set design, the visuals in Mad God are shockingly intricate, beautiful, and terrifying all at once. Visually, the camera careens through the world taking in all the gory details of how beings live, interact, and die on this planet. Immaculate depictions of the grotesque, the weird, and the phantasmagorical result in outstanding still frames that look like they come out of a deliciously fiendish storybook.
Immersive sound design helps Mad God feel as real as it looks. Effective both in keeping the viewer grounded in the reality of this hell-tinged world and making the moments even scarier. While its already bizarre enough to see creatures twisted and torn up in torturous manners, it’s another thing to hear it. Mad God pulverizes its audience with sickening sounds of squishing, splicing, crunching, and crushing. Some of the most creative and creepy setpieces are aided by sound, particularly the baby overlord that controls most of the city. What is clearly a real human child’s laugh is perverted to something ominous when paired with the execution of labor drones and subjugation of animal like creatures.
Films like Mad God only come around every once and a while, so it is worth treasuring for its uniqueness. Quality craftmanship is on display throughout its tight runtime yet still gives viewers the chance to take in the macabre beauty of Tippett’s dark world. Stunning set design, puppetry, and stop motion filmmaking forces coalesces to overload the senses of any person watching this wicked masterpiece. Losing points only for its thin story, Mad God is an excellent hallucinogenic film that is guaranteed to leave you awestruck at least once before it ends. Ravenous creatures, scalpel happy surgeons, and a continuous feeling of existential dread encapsulate the experience one receives when they enter the realm created by a Mad God.
Overall Score? 8/10