Anyone who’s watched an 80s horror flick will tell you, “Don’t enter the haunted house.” Apparently no one told Bird or Lion, the protagonists of a new hybrid animation by Berlin director Jan Koester and animation house Talking Animals. The Pine Tree Villa is a ghost story with a Studio Ghibli-flavored twist, rendered in 2,000 frames of beautiful watercolors painted directly onto rolls of live-action film. Each brush stroke covers every detail except the characters’ custom animal masks, drawing viewers into a world of spirits, irresistable magic, temptation, and the struggle for survival.
Before you can say, “Don’t enter the spooky forest,” Bird and Lion become ensared by a villain whose piano music disarms trespassers with uncontrollably joyous dance. Too tired to defend themselves, they’re easily robbed of their animal masks and turned into obedient workers, á la Yubaaba’s bathhouse in Spirited Away. “After some time I figured out that [the film] actually was about addiction. I grew up in a family where addiction was an issue and I myself have had problems with drugs,” Koester tells The Creators Project. These days, thoughm his drug of choice is animating. He says The Pine Tree Villa “was too much work. But I love painting and I always felt that digital painting cannot replace the traditional.”
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