When I saw this short last month at the student film screening for the School of Visual Arts, I instantly knew it was something that we had to put on Cartoon Brew TV. To be perfectly honest, part of the reason was pure selfishness. It’s because I wanted to watch the film again…and again…and again. Jake Armstrong’s The Terrible Thing of Alpha-9! is not only one of the best student shorts I’ve seen in a long time, it’s one of the finest animated shorts, period.
From the opening scene with its striking blood-red color styling, you know you’re watching a short of uncommon quality. The personality animation in this film is superb, and the physical movement of the alien is Mars and Beyond worthy. The use of cutting and camera shows a confident filmmaker at work. The visual style is refreshingly different and a treat for the eyes. Where the film really shines though is in its storytelling; the humor isn’t gag driven, but rather evolves organically from the interactions between the two main characters. This is a cartoon that is sophisticated in all respects, yet done so expertly that the end results appear effortless.