Bobby Yeah (Short, 2011)
We only occasionally review shorts here at Dread Central, but there are some filmmakers that we feel so passionately about that we are compelled to make an exception. Robert Morgan is one such director, and his latest film, Bobby Yeah, is a stop-motion extravaganza four years in the making that should be sought out if you get the chance.
If you’re unfamiliar with Morgan’s work, check out my prior review of Fantasia’s 2006 program Worlds of Wounded Clay, and hurry over to Animus Films, where you can watch some of his earlier short films. Finally, the trailer for Bobby Yeah can be seen here.
Interested yet? Like many experimental stop-motion films (think Jan Svankmajer or The Brothers Quay), Bobby Yeah is devoid of dialogue and is more nightmarish than narrative, but for those of you that often feel animation lacks the emotional connection of live action filmmaking, you should know that Morgan’s particular talent is imbuing his fleshy, Hieronymous Bosch inspired puppets with a humanity that is disconcerting despite their wholly foreign appearance.
Bobby Yeah is like a Coen Brothers acid trip in which small compulsions spiral out of control, a Pandora’s box fashioned after a Russian doll where characters frantically try to undo their mistakes by ill-advisedly opening box after forbidden box, only managing to make things worse. In the film the simultaneously cute and putrid looking Bobby Yeah abducts a blubbery pet worm from its owner, secreting it back to his lair where he discover a mysterious, mechanical button amongst its gelatinous folds. He pushes the button, unleashing a grotesquely lethal mutation that results in an even more misshapen creature transmogrifying out of the ruinous muck of the now dead critter. Each new beastie has its own button, and like a scab you know you should leave alone, Bobby just can’t stop pushing their buttons. Eventually Bobby gets his own button, and the central drama of the film is whether he’ll be able to prevent himself from pressing it, knowing full well that the result will be horrific.
Technically speaking, Bobby Yeah displays an evolution of Morgan’s talents. His puppets are now incredibly realistic, intentionally malformed as they may be. The effect adds to the overall icky tone, and while grossing the audience out is clearly not the primary goal, there is real horror in all the sweaty, slick, sexually suggestive creatures with their protruding hair and bits of toenail.
Clearly there’s a barely concealed metaphor in here relating to curiosity, self-destructive tendencies, bodily decay, and rebirth, themes Morgan has tackled to greater and lesser degrees in all his films. While the particularly obsessive nature of the films is a large part of their appeal, one can’t help but wish that Morgan would be afforded the chance to branch out a little more to better expose his particular world view to a larger audience. He’s proven he’s as adept at live action as he is at stop-motion through 2004’s Monsters, and it’s always been disappointing that he’s never had the chance to make a feature length film. The tagline of Bobby Yeah is “I done a bad thing”; now if someone would just give Morgan some money, maybe he could do a big thing as well.
4 out of 5