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SXSW 2011: Animal Control is Creepy…In a Good Way

This narrative short film by Toronto director Kire Paputts, in which the main character doesn’t utter a single word, is quiet, eerie and beautiful. While the taxidermy scenes can make you nearly lose your lunch, the film is engaging and intimate. Actor Julian Richings’ rough, emaciated features make him perfect for the part of the main character, and he manages to emit a vibe that is both creepy and harmless.

The 16 minute film follows an animal services employee as he goes about his routine, scooping up road kill, and at the end of the night, chucking most of the black bags of remains into a walk-in freezer. When he finds an animal that’s in good condition, however, he flicks on the weak overhead light in his work room and sets about skinning, cleaning and stuffing the new addition to his collection of animals, frozen in time.

When the character discovers that one of the black bags in the back of his truck is moving, his first reaction is to hold a shovel over his head, poised to bring it down hard in an effort to correct this blip in his night, to make things go back to how they should be. But what happens next will change the pattern of his life in a big way and you’ll be left to decide what he has gained.

Animal Control is beautifully shot and stitched together with silence and visual motifs. It premiered at Toronto International Film Festival, and will screen at Austin’s Alamo Drafthouse (South Lamar) for South by Southwest Saturday March 12 at 2pm, Monday March 14th at 11am and Thursday March 17th at 1:30pm.