Crab Day


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Crab Day
"An affecting but slight story to begin with, this transforms in its second half."

The past few years have seen a lot of films on the subject of strained masculinity. Very few of them have been this direct, or this cute.

Nominated for a BAFTA, Ross Stringer’s engaging little short uses deceptively simple animation which looks like a young child’s pencil scribblings to tell the story of a boy who doesn’t seem much older, but who is deemed ready to start taking on masculine responsibilities. We first meet him when he’s on a boat with his father, who hauls up a crab trap and puts its occupant into a bucket, just for him. Is it intended as a pet? Well, no...

Copy picture

Back on shore, everything is industry and process. Large square men pass crates of crabs along, one to another. In another line, boys gather, each with his own crab in a bucket. When he reaches the front of the line, each boy is given a hatchet and, copying the boy in front of him, places his crab onto a small platform. If you don’t imagine that harm coming to animals can affect you when it’s presented as a pencil line drawing, you haven’t anticipated the way that the hapless crustaceans blink up at those about to decide their fate. When the deed is done, however, each boy spontaneously transforms into a man.

Needless to say, when our young hero reaches the front of the line, his crab is nowhere to be seen.

An affecting but slight story to begin with, this transforms in its second half as we see the consequences of the boy’s actions, rather more dramatic than might have been expected. Events take a wild turn leading to a choice on the boy’s part that may or may not be wise, but at least allows him to try something different, and to bring about change in others, too. The whole thing has the logic of an adventure story written by a child, and just as much charm. It’s delivered with economy and wit and no small degree of pencil-drawn panache.

Reviewed on: 17 Feb 2024
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Crab Day packshot
As part of a fishing community's annual ritual, a young boy must kill his first crab in order to become a man and gain his father's approval.

Director: Ross Stringer

Writer: Aleksandra Sykulak

Year: 2023

Runtime: 10 minutes

Country: UK


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