Feature #2: “La Casa Lobo”
For centuries children have dreamed of ominous woods, threatening wolves and other fearsome fictional creations, but with their feature debut Cristóbal León and Joaquín Cociña have drawn upon their own folklore and fairy tales to craft this visually stunning stop-motion animated film out of paint, paper, tape, furniture and the vapour of ebony-hued hallucinations.
In a picture-perfect valley in the shadow of the Andes, a rural colony is home to German immigrants and their offspring. At first ‘La Casa Lobo’ (or ‘The Wolf House’) cleverly pretends to be an archival film singing the praises of ‘Colonia Dignidad’. Soon enough, though, the film skews left into a more sinister tale, feeding off familiar children’s stories – from Little Red Riding Hood to The Three Little Pigs – all the time leading us into the darker menagerie contained within its boundaries.
‘La Casa Lobo’ is the place where Maria takes refuge after she has escaped from the colony. The wolf is Paul Schaeffer, a former SS Officer, who has moved to Chile, a notorious paedophile and a zealous torturer working for Pinochet and the head of the Colony. As if in some sort of dream lock-step the house reacts to Maria’s feelings and transforms her stay into a nightmarish experience.
Sometimes reminiscent of an ‘Eraserhead’-style Lynchian nightmare, ‘La Casa Lobo’ is quite a journey – a journey doubly weighted by the raw, full-scale, viscerally hands-on and determinedly physical nature of the animation technique León and Cociña bring to the game.