Spooktober Review: Alma by Rodrigo Blaas

What if Pixar made horror movies? No, the Cars franchise doesn’t count.

Yet.

No, you get Alma, a very classical children’s horror story about the dangers of being too greedy and going into strange places all alone.

It was written and directed by ex-Pixar animator Rodrigo Blaas, who unsurprisingly has worked with fellow Spanish creep creator Guillermo Del Toro. You can watch it on YouTube here. It’s only 5 minutes of your time, so just go ahead and watch it!

Alma begins with our adorable protagonist, Alma, playing in the snow alongside a wall of missing children’s posters.

Off to a great start

She grabs some chalk and writes her name on a wall full of other children’s names, leading in to the movie’s title.

She then looks over at a shop window, and sees to her surprise, a doll that looks EXACTLY like her!

Now, because Alma has the unfortunate disadvantage of not being the type of person who would run like hell if they ever saw a doll that looks exactly like them done to the clothes they wore that day, she in typical fairy tale foolish child fashion, decides she wants the creepy doll-pleganger.

She enters, but before she can claim her prize, she steps on a lego and dies because it’s a toy store, of course they have lego in there a wooden bike toy with a boy on it.

She stands him back up, and it decides to make a break for it, but the door closes.

Somebody needs to watch Toy Story 3’s breakout scene

She giggles off the desperate bike boy and goes in to grab the doll. Meanwhile, bike boy continues to bump into the door and I can’t even think of a quip right now because the next scene is legitimately unsettling.

The worst part is that through the quiet, the bike boy’s attempts at escape get even more desperate, the crashing of wood on wood getting ever faster and louder.

At this point, you must have put together what’s about to happen. She touches the doll and we’re treated to a literal blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scene where in the span of one blink-

Into The Looking Glass (Eye)
Probably reaching here, but this looks really similar to the original Blair Witch Project movie poster
If any of ya’ll have ever watched Event Horizon, this must be pretty familiar.

She’s a doll now, and it pans out to the rest of the dolls looking at their new eternal roommate, then out the store with a new victim cute doll on display.

So that’s Alma! What did I think of it?

Well, obviously, I loved it. The visual storytelling present here is some of the strongest I’ve seen of any animated horror film. Thanks to the lack of dialogue, exposition has to be gathered from visuals and scenery alone, and Alma uses it perfectly.

I already mentioned the missing children’s posters, but did you also notice the window looks like a gaping monster’s mouth?

Plain as day, the rootlike structures symbolize drool, the top are clearly eyes, nose and teeth, and even the one splash of color on the shop near the bottom, are the green scales on the wall.

Another thing I noticed was the writings on the walls make no sense. We figure that they’re all children of course, but how on earth are there names way above the average height of a child who could be bribed with dolls? That’s when it hit me. Wasn’t it too convenient that the one empty space on the wall happened to be the spot where Alma wrote? You would think that’s the first place people would write, right? You are absolutely correct.

Because that is exactly what happened. The names in the center all moved away from it to make more space for future children to write themselves to a terrible fate. See how the names almost look like they exploded from the center? Speaking of names, Alma means “soul”. The doll literally takes Alma’s alma.

It’s fun stuff like that you get on a rewatch that makes Alma such a captivating short story. It’s creepy, atmospheric and strangely nostalgic. Who hasn’t wanted to get a toy from a window shop at some point in their childhood, right?

The fact that it works as a classic children’s story, with a simple message of “don’t enter shady places even if they offer you stuff you like”, is certain to be memorable for any child who has the fortune of having parents who would show this to them.

Alma’s a definite horror animation staple, and shows that even the bubbliest of Pixar animation can have its dark sides too.

– TLM

6 thoughts on “Spooktober Review: Alma by Rodrigo Blaas

  1. Did not know this existed, and done by an ex-Pixar animator no less. Going to check this out tomorrow since it’s pretty late as I’m typing this comment XD. Not surprise about the strong visual storytelling. Might have picked up a thing, or two from Guillermo Del Toro himself. Dude has an eye for that, and a thing for scary kids also hahaha

    Liked by 1 person

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