GHOST DOGS is a surreal horror-esque animated short from Joe Cappa, who co-wrote the screenplay with J.W. Hallford. The short had its official premiere at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Taking the audience through unexpected twists and turns and utilizing Nicholas Poss’s original score to great advantage, this animated short is sure to linger in the mind.
The story of GHOST DOGS is centered around a rescue pup who finds itself in a loving home. However, as the innocent puppy soon discovers, its home carries a multitude of secrets. One major one being that it is mysteriously haunted by the family’s former pets who don’t accidentally look normal or friendly. Based on the design alone, the audience is clued in to the more sinister aspects of this family’s home. However, in order to prevent spoilers from taking root, this reviewer will refrain from explaining further about the plot.
The short, which is completely hand-drawn, combines horror, suspense, and comedy seamlessly as we’re taken through an unexpectedly jarring journey through this household. Cappa’s leaning into the more weird, abstract nature of a haunting works well and, with the flexibility provided by hand-drawn animation, the sky’s the limit in terms of how far the viewer can be taken visually.
Also, as a long-time dog owner, this reviewer must point out the small attentions to detail put into how the dogs onscreen behave. After a while of being around dogs, you pick up on certain behaviors and mannerisms that are so natural to them. So, it’s something that easily is appreciated by this reviewer.
Overall, GHOST DOGS will take the viewer on a wild ride that they didn’t know they had signed up for. Starting off seemingly normal, Cappa and Hallford’s writing steadily turn up the dial on suspense as it becomes abundantly clear that things are not what they seem. Cappa’s animation style allows for exploration and expansion into the more surreal visual realms featured in the short. In all honesty, this animated short is enough to make anyone interested in knowing what the team at Great Question will be up to next.
GHOST DOGS is now available On-Demand on the Sundance Film Festival site until February 3 with the purchase of a pass. You can purchase a pass here.