“Chainsaw Maid” by Takena Nagao “Chainsaw Maid” by Takena Nagao

Chainsaw Maid has gotten a fair share of play this year, but I thought it deserved a bigger shout out here on Cartoon Brew. The idea to match up colorful plasticine with the zombie genre was a revelation for me–a perfect match. Show me a better use, or at least one that’s more fun, for plasticine.

The film is very well edited and shows a lot of directorial promise. The director, Takena Nagao, takes the zombie genre and replicates its idiosyncrasies flawlessly. The music is delightfully creepy, and works like a charm.  The candy-colored world is almost edible and had me wondering what purple brain blood tastes like. From a storytelling perspective, Chainsaw Maid mixes reaction shots, wide angles and close-ups better than some of the feature films I’ve seen recently.

Perhaps most impressive of all is Takena’s use of the moving camera: the quick zooms, the subtle pans and tilts, the lens recalibrating during a shot to find the action (e.g. 2:53-3:02). It takes confidence to move a camera like this, and even more confidence when you’re doing it in-camera without the aid of rigs/motion control. Takena uses it to add tension, believability, and dynamism to the film at just the right points–in other words, not just for the sake of moving a camera, as so many directors (amateur and professional alike) tend to do.

All in all, I find it super-refreshing to see a talented young filmmaker having so much fun and I can’t wait to see his future work.

PS. This is a link to Takena Nagao’s YouTube channel. And if you like Chainsaw Maid, check out Takena’s latest film, Pussycat.

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