Ghost Dogs Sundance 2021’s Best Absurdist Short Horror Film

Ghost Dogs is an animated short horror film directed and animated by Joe Cappa and written by J.W HallFord and Joe Cappa with a horrifying original score by Nicholos Poss. It centers around a newly adopted dog, home alone, haunted by the ghost of his family’s past furry pals. 

Ghost Dog’s specific animation style and Joe Cappa’s aesthetics really make this film stand out visually from a lot of the other animated shorts from this year’s festival. This is especially true of how the Ghost Dogs look very aggressive and humanoid and how their look conflicts with our protagonist dog’s friendly and cute appearance.

Photo courtesy of Joe Cappa.

The tone of this short film can be unnerving especially during certain things however there’s a level of absurdity to it that also makes you want to laugh. Especially, since the main character just doesn’t react to things that we would scream at if we saw in it real life. I really like that Ghost Dogs kinda absurd but also a kinda terrifying dark humor. It keeps you guessing because you don’t ever get an explanation of what’s really going on but it’s not overtly edging or shocking 

Photo courtesy of Joe Cappa.

This film’s background artist Patrick Caroll really did a great job with adding in the little details of the house that this film is set in. His art work combined with Joe Cappa’s animation really brought it together. 

Another element of this film that makes it stand out and something I really enjoyed is that the story being told is mostly visual, and it seems like in almost every scene there’s something that contributes to the story in a way you kinda have to connect the dots using what you see. So it’s really something that you have to watch to kind of understand and honestly I could spend a while just making a video dissecting the different visuals of this film and then coming up with some theories about what’s going on.

The story being able to be told through its visuals can be credited to the amazing writing by J.W Hallford and Joe Cappa. This kind of horror has to really be thought out and planned to come out well and I’m really glad that these two guys together could write something that sparks so many questions in the watcher. 

I’d also really like to give credit to the composer of the film’s score, the eerie music really adds to the atmosphere of this film and without it’s impact the film really wouldn’t be the same. 

Another thing I really enjoy about this film and that’s the openness of the narrative. Because the narrative is being shown to you, and what’s being told is what you see, you can interpret it in your own way and that might be a different or similar idea for everyone watching. That can really spark up debate when your talking to someone about this movie. That alone combined with really great animation makes this movie very memorable and something that I think a lot of people, myself included, will want to rewatch. 

Also, a side note, there’s this fake commercial in the short that is a really funny parody of those pet food commercials that play on tv. It’s really funny and it’s really cheesy, and it was one of my favorite parts of the film. That and another scene towards the end but I’ll leave that up for you guy’s to discover for yourself since I really want people to watch this film because I’d really would like to debate theories about what’s happening in this movie. 

Overall, Ghost Dogs really is a great short film and definitely one of my favorites, especially with it’s aesthetics, and it’s awesome poster design. Which is kind of a requirement for great horror films. If you guys are interested in getting a poster check out their store. It’s got some great T-shirts and I’m sure buying one would really help out the filmmakers! I know I’m going to cop one at least one of them. 

Photo courtesy of Joe Cappa.

Anyway, that was my review of Ghost Dogs. You can check out the trailer below.

Without question the strangest and most disturbing short this writer had the pleasure of watching at this year’s festival, Ghost Dogs is an animated horror film told through the eyes of a newly-rescued dog. Unbeknownst to the pup, he has been thrown into an apartment full of nightmares, including long-dead ghost pets and the havoc they’ve decided to wreak. Often do pieces like this overstay their welcome, even in short form. Filmmaker Joe Cappa ensures that that not be the case here. His creative escalation results in an experience you won’t quickly shake from your head. Equal parts terrifying and hysterical.

Dan M.

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