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Anonymous Animals Movie Review

Written by Joanna K. Neilson

Released by Anonymous Animals Films


Written and directed by Baptiste Rouveure
2020, 64 minutes, Not Yet Rated
Grimmfest UK Premiere on 7th October 2020

Thierry Marcos
Pauline Guilpain
Aurélien Chilarski
Emilien Lavaut


It’s no great surprise that human beings treat their fellow creatures like shit. Hell, we even treat our fellow HUMANS like shit, often in the most upsetting ways possible. There’s plenty of horror out there in the real world, and what this film tries to describe, in just barely over one hour, is - wouldn’t it be bad if WE were the animals? Eh? What if the animals wanted to treat US HUMANS that way. Eh? Wouldn’t that be terrible? And ISN'T IT ALREADY TERRIBLE?

Well, duh, yes, it really is. That’s the entire premise of this almost wordless piece. That this is exactly how we treat animals now: like a bloody horror movie. The message comes down to - ‘Feel empathy, you bastards!’ And does it make its point successfully? Yes, I suppose it does. It's probably most effective if you’ve literally never thought about animal welfare before. Which I’m sure enough haven’t to make this a useful exercise. However, I also doubt that the people who really need that message will make the effort to see this. I hope I’m mistaken.

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The main draw may well be that this looks like a discarded Prodigy or Daft Punk music video. This is what this most resembles. The human-animals are being tortured by anthropomorphised animals, who have the relevant creatures on the heads of otherwise normal humanoid bodies. It gives the film a pagan vibe, as though the wordless, terrified humans being herded, beaten and brutalised are being used for an unholy sacrifice. Or, worse, just business as usual.

To set this surreal scene, slaughterhouse chic is everywhere. The bleak farm and dingy woods are locked within a nightmarish landscape, where the horizons are always blocked by thick mist. Heavy chains clang, filthy doors slam, and any break for survival is just a momentary hope spot in this bleak and cruel universe, where the only bright colours come from frequent splashes of innocent blood.

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Other than speculation, very little else is explained. It’s an allegory, an Aesop, a cry for help for the animals themselves. But maybe this is also a hellish afterlife. Why else can’t the humans speak? Who even gave the humans their trainers and clothes? Why do these man-animals have the capacity to exploit them, while screeching and howling in their own tongues? Suspension of disbelief is kind of the point, but trying to figure out how it all happened is, initially, a bit distracting.

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It’s also hard not to see it as vegan propaganda. Much like PETA’s The Farm, the premise of people as pigs, and other doomed and exploited creatures, is hammered home, albeit with some genuine pathos and decent acting. The scared, hurt and abandoned-pup performance by the man-as-dog right at the start is genuinely touching. Although, I have to question whether just showing a real dog going through this (an actor dog of course!) wouldn’t be just as, if not more, affecting. Does-the-dog-die.com exists for a reason, guys.

So while it’s solid, and doesn’t overstay its premise, this really offers no solution, no real suggestion that humanity and animals could and do coexist in a far less horrific way. All is dread. All is death. All is hopeless. And the reaction that it tends to provoke is a shrug of ‘well what can you do?’. Perhaps humans do have the power, or political will, to change the worst horrors of animal exploitation, but Anonymous Animals does not seem optimistic about that possibility so, in that respect, it’s a very good horror film. As a surreal pseudo music video, making a heavy-handed but perhaps much-needed point, it truly succeeds - and depresses - in equal measure.


Movie: 3 Star Rating Cover
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