[Cinepocalypse 2019 Short Film Review] Toe


You know the story.

In stark black and white with stop motion animation, a waif of a boy picks at vegetables in a desolate landscape. He happens upon a protruding thing in the ground and whacks it off with a hoe. That night, he steams it back at his crickety dilapidated house and goes to bed, the moon staring down at him through a hole in the ceiling.

Then…the classic line:


Yes, Toe is based on the same folklore tale that Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark mined in its first volume with the story “The Big Toe.” This version is steeped in Gothic atmosphere that is a mix between Stephen Gammell’s artwork in Scary Stories and the look of a Henry Selick stop motion classic. It’s stunning and haunting and, frankly, intense as hell.

Even though you know where the story is going, the animation and atmosphere is downright scary. Adding to the scare factor is a tremendous and appropriately overwrought score by Flora Cheng. It’s a seven minute exercise in tension-building and I hope we see directors Chad Thurman and Neal O’Bryan and the puppet designs by Demi Kay Schlehofer go on to create more stop motion animation.

Toe is paired perfectly with one of my favorite feature length movies at Cinepocalypse, Attack of the Demons.