Movie Review: Wendell and Wild



Wendell and Wild

Trigger Warning (Mentions of Self Harm)

Stop Motion has to be the most beautiful way to tell a story, and Netflix’s Wendell and Wild, one of the newest films of its kind, was the perfect story to portray with such an art form.

Henry Selick, the director of the iconic Coraline and the Nightmare Before Christmas, directed the masterpiece of a film, with it premiering on October 21st, 2022.

This feature is the most diverse movie I have ever seen, with representation we don’t see as often as we should. Not only is Kat, the main character, Black; but many of the main characters are indigenous, hispanic, asian and east Indian.

The representation of the culture is clearly stated in the design of the characters; considering the presentation of Ms. Hunter’s traditional jewelry and tattoos, as well as Kat wearing a silk scarf when going to bed to protect her curls.

Not to mention that Kat’s best friend, Raul, is a trans man and the acceptance of him being trans was so beautiful to watch. Kat didn’t pay any mind to it and continued with her day while calling him by his correct pronouns. In addition, the correction made by Raul’s mom when talking over the phone saying that she had a son and not a daughter was extremely heartwarming. 

Throughout the film, there were so many underlying themes to this movie, surprising me by how well each was portrayed. 

One underlying theme that was hard to catch that I didn’t notice until the second time I watched through this film was the scar that Kat gets on her hand after Bearzebub bit her. Possibly representing a form of self-harm scars, the way this topic was shown was gratifying.

When listening to Sister Helley and Kat’s interactions when talking about their scars, I noticed that when Sister Helley showed Kat that she also has the scar, Kat was instantly comforted by the fact that she wasn’t alone. Sister Helley showed Kat that she had also been through what she has been through, and she knows how hard it is to deal with. These interactions between the two formed parallels in my life that made me realize what this symbolism actually meant.

When it comes to Kat breaking down the demon inside her, this underlying theme held so much depth. This scene wasn’t just Kat fighting the demon that came from Bearzebub’s bite, she was fighting the demons that she created herself. The monster she created was from the anger, guilt and depression coming from the event that changed her life completely and the chains were the past holding her back from what she could achieve. After breaking the chains and accepting the past, she is finally able to look towards the future.

I truly loved that all of the characters were voiced by people of the same ethnicity. An example is Ms. Hunter was voiced by Tantoo Cardinal, a Cree and Metis actress, and Raul is voiced by Sam Zelaya, a hispanic trans actor. This movie clearly shows what representation should look like. 

I have watched Coraline at least 100 times throughout my life and it has to be one of my favorite movies so seeing the parallels of the visual imprint of the stop motion was like nostalgia. When Wendell and Wild first see Kat as they’re on top of their father’s scalp, the extension of their arms towards the child reminded me of the other Miss Spink and Miss Forcible as they were entangled together as taffy. In the same scene, Kat appears within a spiral of color which reminds me of the tunnel to the other world in Coraline. 

Being a fan of many stop motion movies, this film intrigued me to the fullest extent. So, if you want to dive deep into a world with demons and hidden meanings, Wendell and Wild is a feature that is worth a watch.