I must admit that I’ve never watched any of David Firth’s work until UMBLICIAL WORLD. I did a quick IMDb search and noticed he has a treasure trove of animated TV shows and films (Salad Fingers, Drillbithead, Burnt Face Man, Jerry Jackson, etc) as well as a cult following. This film, though, works for first-time watchers like myself because it’s a retrospective of his career, 13 years in the making.
To say that his animation is strange or unsettling is an understatement. It sort of reminds me of the work of experimental director Lawrence Jordan. His shorts and features are just as out there, though I would say Firth’s might be a little more out there than Jordan’s work. Firth’s work also gave me David Lynch vibes with the animation and surreal plots.
While the avant-garde creepiness reminded me of those directors, I would say that David Firth is really in a league of his own. UMBILICAL WORLD is over an hour of different, yet connected, segments (and a few animation styles) that you can’t look away from, even if it does make you feel a tad (okay, maybe a little more than just a tad) uncomfortable.
Firth’s iconic character, Salad Fingers, makes his presence known from beginning to end. For those who watched the animated series, you’ll probably be happy to know that. There’s also a scene where cockroaches cook up body parts that is just so weird that I had to almost laugh. I mean, Firth makes some good points about the world, especially with a scene where workers heads are set with timers filled with blood. We do live in a world of drudgery.
The second segment was the most unsettling for me as it does have a lot to do with the title and then some. I also would like to note in Firth’s work that there is a lot of connection between humans/insects. Something I noticed was that he likes to turn people into a part of an insect (or give them eerie spider legs) and he doesn’t skimp on the blood or mutilation either.
As a first time watcher of his work, I can’t say that I loved it, but I also can’t say that I hated it either as I do admire where Firth is coming from. What I can say is that his work is something that pushes the envelope and sticks with you. I can see why he’s popular as he’s not afraid to make you squirm or even ponder life’s most diabolical questions! UMBILICAL WORLD is now out and available to purchase HERE.