Eye For Film >> Movies >> The Renter (2011) Film Review
Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson
For a tale ostensibly based on the creator's "time in day care" this short manages a level of malice on a par with The Night Of The Hunter. Dropped off at his Grandma's house for the day, our protagonist is left in an environment where not everything is as it seems.
It's visually striking, animated in a densely layered drawing. The credits make it clear that it was an all digital, paperless production, but its wiggly-coloured style and jiggery-patina remind one of Rhoobarb & Custard, or at least the kind of scary film Custard might accidentally find himself watching if he stayed up too late.
The titular Renter is a broke-nosed beady-eyed fellow, playing piano-records in his room. He don't take kindly to the note on his door that reads "Pay your rent", but he don't seem to take kindly to nothing. It's not just the renter that's an issue though - there's some terrifying chicken soup, the ominous slow rattle of a distant freight train, and Grandma looks too keenly at her shining, shining axe. Isolated physically, generationally, even culturally, the little house in the country becomes an ever more fearful place.
This is Jason Carpenter's debut film, and it's a good one. Visually, it's splendid - he trained as a painter, and it's evident in the landscapes of rural America - notes of mills or canneries in the distance, the shape of houses, those chickens underfoot. His character designs are expressive, a kind of deep-minimalism, just enough to convey but abstracted within the painted aesthetic of the production. Jeff Shiffman's music adds a lot, but it's for the looking at that this is worth watching.Reviewed on: 09 Feb 2012