The Spine of Night (2021) 

In a world of magic and fantasy, heroes and foes face off to decide the fate of the world. 

Written and directed by Philip Gelatt and Morgan Galen King, this animated movie has a lot of grand ideas and it looks so cool with its old school, 80s reminiscent animation, but the story just doesn’t stick. How the it not stick? Well, it’s hard to explain in that it took a few different viewing attempts to get to the entire film watched. This means that it did not keep the attention, basically at all, which is something that was such a letdown for this fan of animated movies. The story has some strong elements, but the evolution of the story and how long it takes to go from one thing to the next makes it something that this viewer could not keep their attention on.  

That being said, the film looks good and sounds very good with an all-star cast including Richard E. Grant, Lucy Lawless, Patton Oswalt, Betty Gabriel, Joe Manganiello, Larry Fessenden, and many more. They all do good work here, but if the story doesn’t connect, the rest of the film will be hard to pay attention to. Here the voice cast is talented and they do show it in their work, adding personality and emotions to the story. 

The music by Peter Scartabello is one of the high points of the film, giving something to bring the images more to life and giving the viewer something they can latch onto when the voice cast is not at play. The music here is a mood, it sets the mood, and it’s something that can be remembered. Going with the music, the animation is very old school 80s, reminding of those older films that ran on late night cable and gave some jolts of fun randomly. This animation here is something that works hard to give the film a look and a feel that is its own while keeping the nostalgia very much at the forefront. 

With animation, music, and voice performances that are top notch, the fact that the film doesn’t keep the attention makes it that much sadder and more frustrating to watch. The Spine of Night is a film that should have been so much more and unfortunately did not work out overall. This is a watch that can be frustrating as there is so much potential and it feels wasted as the film has to be watched a couple of times to be fully watched without losing track of the story. It’s one of those films that gives a bunch of good stuff but still doesn’t come together in a way that is as fascinating as it should have been.