Have you ever been creeped out beyond all reason by something as benign as dogs, a house, and a clumsy Roomba? Do you want to be? Watch GHOST DOGS.
It cannot be overstated, the amount of concentrated surreality and outright weirdness that is contained in a single, eleven-minute-long runtime. Director, writer, and animator Joe Cappa weaves the tale of an adopted foster dog in a house haunted by an increasing number of ghost dogs with humanoid features effortlessly, with the only dialogue being a dog food commercial that coincides with an extremely disturbing piece of animation — which for an entirely disturbing short feature is saying a lot.
The animation itself is spectacular. Both the raw design and the VHS-style artifacting bring to mind the best examples of the golden age of experimental animation circa MTV’s Liquid Television and early era Adult Swim. Every line and movement flows seamlessly into the next, and the uncanny contortions and distortions of everything from the ghost dogs, to a suburban home whose decor speaks to a sinister undertone, to tears in the void of reality itself, stick in your mind long after they leave the screen.
If you watch any short film on the Sundance 2021 animated short film roster, it better be this one. It is no exaggeration to posit that if his future work is of the same quality, Cappa has quite the future in animation coming to him.
GHOST DOGS premieres as part of the Sundance 2021 Animation Spotlight on Jan. 28th and will be viewable for the entirety of the festival for pass holders on demand.