Consuming Spirits

Directed by Chris Sullivan

Nearly 15 years in the making, Chris Sullivan's Consuming Spirits is a meticulously constructed tour de force of experimental animation. Shooting frame by frame in 16mm, Sullivan seamlessly blends together a range of techniques—cutout animation, pencil drawing, collage, and stop-motion animation—into a distinct, signature visual style. In the process, he constructs a hypnotic, layered narrative, a suspenseful gothic tale that tracks the intertwined lives of three kindred spirits working at a local newspaper in a Midwestern rust belt town. The accumulation of these images builds to a great atmospheric effect, achieved through an adroit combination of inventive set design, ever-shifting visual perspectives, fluid camera movements, a vivid color palette, and a haunting music track. Sullivan succeeds in creating, with great artistry, a hermetic, self-contained world emanating from his own unique and vivid imagination. (Jon Gartenberg, Tribeca Film Festival)


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  • ★★★★★ review by jonni phillips on Letterboxd

    seriously watch this if you can...... so amazing

  • ★★★★½ review by Sir Thomas Thipple on Letterboxd


  • ★★★½ review by Kai Perrignon on Letterboxd

    12 years in the making and featuring the use of multiple animation styles - from beautiful paper-cut outs to simple black on white cel hand drawn to crude model stop motion - Consuming Spirits is a creaky, sometimes frustrating elegy for family, community, and the unspoken bonds that create such.

    Following three lonely individuals all involved with the local paper of a small, decaying town, Consuming Spirits spends its first hour and a half floating around a shapeless series of tragedies. It opens with a nun being hit by a school bus and getting left in the woods. From there, characters and miseries drift across the screen, seemingly without purpose and sometimes explanation. It's compelling by virtue of the sheer strangeness of it all, the animation giving the plights weight when the writing does not. But it still feels like a big pile of nothing for a long while.

    And then, in the last half hour, writer/director/a ton of things pulls it all together and gives meaning to the bloated morass behind it. Over the course of those final minutes, the pain and heartbreak finds truth in its connections, and Consuming Spirits becomes a ghost story where the spirits (that punny title is really not great) are just the memories of people moved on.

  • ★★★★ review by Eric Henderson on Letterboxd

    Akin to the Disney version of The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, Consuming Spirits has moonshine on its rotten breath, but its images are never less than intoxicating. [WCCO.COM review]

  • ★★★½ review by jssgoh on Letterboxd

    wack style, charmingly jerky anim (i guess that's just what you get with puppets!!!), uncomfortably sparse sound design. incredibly confusing - wack pacing that messes around with time & jumps between characters so much that you forget whose story you're following (doesn't matter tbh). I fell asleep in the middle for 20 min but as long as u make it to the end of the film you'll understand everything

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