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Film Review: Mecanix (2003)

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SYNOPSIS:

Mecanix tells the story of the last human beings who are forced to be the slaves of the strange creatures that rule this strange world.There is only one thing these beasts fear – the embryo of the universe : the origin of everything. The only hope that the humans have is to free themselves from this mecanic environment before they all die

REVIEW:

 The world of Remy M. Larochelle’s Mecanix is a bleak one indeed, one that calls to mind a post-apocalyptic nightmare not quite like any others we’ve seen before. This is a world of part-monster, part-machine creatures, where the humans are few, and the ones that still do exist live a life of servitude to their new masters. And while the story itself here is a strange one, and one that might take a couple viewings to decode and understand, it is the artistic approach and look of this film that will stick with the audience long after the movie’s ending.

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The basic idea of the plot, in a nutshell, is that the mechanical creatures run the world and are in search of something called “the embryo.” Meanwhile, a still-free human (Stephane Bilodeau) stumbles upon a bird-like creature and finds that there may be more to it than meets the eye, especially after he opens it up and does a little looking around. What he finds makes him instantly the most sought after human being around, and possibly the most powerful as well.

Mecanix is written and directed by Remy M. Larochelle (with additional dialogue written by Melissa Hebert), and unfortunately it would seem this is his only long-form work, at least as far as I can find. However, a simple internet search will bring up a wide variety of his short work, and I highly recommend doing just this, because here is an artist whose work needs to be seen. His style can vary from short to short, but here in his feature length debut, the look is nothing short of spectacular. Think something along the lines of one of the early Tool music videos (“Prison Sex” is the one I had in mind) set in a world reminiscent of something created by Terry Gilliam, and you’ve got a little hint at what Mecanix has in store.

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Throughout the film, there is an abundance of creatures, for lack of a better word, roaming the bleak dystopian wasteland. There are creatures that are part skeleton, part mechanics, and part beast, there are demon-looking monsters, and there are amorphous creatures with long wires protruding from their arms in place of hands. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to exploring the realms of Larochelle’s imagination. This is a darker, creepier style of stop-motion animation than what you might be used to. Between the shots of mechanically-enhanced “doctors” cutting into humans and searching for the embryo, and the events that take place once the man is captured and questioned, and from the design of the horrifying monsters to the dark, bleak setting, this is the stuff that nightmares are made of.

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Mecanix is yet another great film brought to us by the nice folks at Unearthed Films. However, a word of warning: don’t go in expecting a bloodbath on screen, gore pouring from every direction. This films stands out in their catalog. There are disturbing visuals, for sure, the kind that will stick in your head and stay with you for some time after viewing, but they aren’t disturbing in the way that the Guinea Pig films or the works of Lucifer Valentine are. All this is to say, this is not a bloody and gory film, nor is it even particularly violent. Rather, it is the dark tone and bleak landscape, along with nightmarish visuals, that this film shares with its more gruesome “label mates.”

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Remy M. Larochelle brings to the screen a dark tale of a world we hope never comes, one where humanity is all but lost and hope is not far behind. His technique, his approach, and his vision are all unique and inspired, and we can only hope that he feels compelled to breathe a bit more fresh air into the world of sci-fi and horror. Mecanix may not be a straight forward, run of the mill movie (there are very few lines of dialogue, and very few human characters), and its story can probably be interpreted in a variety of ways based on how you watch it, but I believe it is a film that deserves to be taken in and thought about. It is a quieter film that is aimed more for the cerebral crowd, but I think any audience can appreciate the look and style of the art Larochelle puts on the screen.

Mecanix is now available from Unearthed films

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