in ,

Review : ‘Moon Garden’ – a modern Grimm Fairy Tale

“Moon Garden’’ is a visual feast, utilizing miniatures, animation and anything that doesn’t require CGI.

For most of its runtime, “Moon Garden” has us see things through the eyes of preschool aged Emma (Haven Lee). We see the kind of bond she has with her mother Sara (Augie Duke) and father Alex (Brionne Davis), as well as the relationship between her parents. Sara and Alex are in a loveless marriage, and unfortunately, Emma is trapped in the middle. While she may not understand it all, she recognizes the pain on their faces as they yell, argue and become combative. One night, an argument erupts again between the two and Emma interrupts the dueling parents in frustration. She storms off, but slips on one of her many toys scattered about the house, falling down a flight of stairs and winding up in the hospital in a coma. We now go with Emma into a dream-like world that looks like Lewis Carrol and Henry Selick decided to have a nightmarish sleepover.

In this comatose world, Emma meets ghoulish creatures like a decaying groom and a haunting pianist, but she’s pursued by an evolving fairy tale monster, labeled in the credits as Teeth (Morgana Ignis). Teeth, emphasized by the chattering imperfect teeth shining brightly in the darkness of a cloak and hood, pursues Emma at every turn, almost reminding her of the fact that she’s lost in a dreamscape without her parents. It’s through these bizarre interactions, we learn that not everything is as it seems with Emma, her parents, and the brutal relationship they all endure.

While the story feels bare bones, much of the film’s narrative is described to us through gothic metaphors and decaying symbolism. None of the darkness feels threatening though because so much of the film radiates with Emma’s childlike wonder. She finds joy in simplicity and sees the beauty in ugly disfigurements. It’s hard not to get wrapped up in the film’s inherent whimsy as Emma dances and plays with creatures. It’s only when Teeth arrives that the reality of Emma’s predicament rises and we sense that death could be on the horizon. Emma has to push through the nightmare with determination that things will get better, just like she must when she awakens; if she even does.

“Moon Garden’’ is a visual feast, utilizing miniatures, animation and anything that doesn’t require CGI. Complementing the boundless, melancholy dreamworld is a story that’s surprisingly emotional. A lot of that is due in part to Haven Lee, who bats the cycle in her performance as she takes viewers on a rollercoaster of emotions. For those who loved last year’s “Mad God” or something more well-known like “Labyrinth,” this is the kind of fantasy film that feels like a modern Grimm Fairy Tale that sticks to your heart and soul.

Here’s who’s starring in Mortal Kombat sequel (so far…)

Win tickets to ‘Renfield’ starring Nicolas Cage and Nicholas Hoult!