I was very eager for this movie to come out. I first learned of it from the Jim Henson's Creature Shop website and waited ... and waited... and waited. I never heard anything else. Then one day, I saw a preview for it on another DVD I had rented for my kids. I was in total shock! It had never even been released at any theaters near me and here it was on DVD? Of course, I had to get it and made a big family event of it. I had no idea what to expect (I hadn't read the book) but I know I am a huge Creature Shop fan as well as a fan of all of the talents involved in it's writing and creation, so I had good faith that it would be wonderful.
I was not let down.
Now, this is a bit of an odd film, even by avant-garde standards. I am a huge fan of the odd, the strange, the unexpected and the surprising. I used to risk life and limb by secretly recording ‘Avant-garde Cinema’ when I was a kid because I have always been a very visual person and many of those art films seemed to me to be more painting the movie. I still have images in my mind from “Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams”, “Eraserhead” and “Brazil”.
I would categorize MirrorMask in that same category. It is visually amazing, stunning, surprising and keeps you almost physically uneasy. While my eyes ate up every moment, my body seemed to be unable to adjust, as if sitting on a stool with 1 short leg, never truly being able to relax. Maybe this is not a good way to describe it and maybe the film-makers didn’t intend it but I think it was intentional on their part. You are supposed to feel like you are out of place, uncertain of reality, just as the characters within the film are uncertain of reality.
There are incredibly funny moments and frightening moments. There are moments you feel as if you are missing something and moments that you feel like you are watching your own life up there on the screen. At least for me, it seemed that way. Some of the best parts are the subtleties that you may even miss the first time or two you watch it. Then again, perhaps you will just find yourself so uncomfortable that you can’t make your way through it at all. Either way, this is not the kind of film you can passively watch. You most likely will find yourself actively involved, either falling in love with it or turning it off.
I bet you can’t guess which category I fall into.