Channelling the work of comics artist Michael DeForge, Daniela Espinosa has lovingly crafted a dark fairy-tale with Baby Grotesque. Set in a dark, foreboding forest, we are introduced to an innocent little girl when a great, lumbering monster emerges from the bushes.

Squelching and hideous, this creature nonetheless possesses a certain charm with its cute smile. The ambivalent nature of this monster unnerves but also disarms, even as it tears off and devours pieces of the girl’s flesh.  With this character, Espinosa meshes Totoro, final-act Tetsuo, and even CDI Ganon into an unholy abomination.

The girl begins to relish the act of sacrificing pieces of her body to the monster and a perverse friendship blossoms. The motif of consumption highlights the one-sided nature of this relationship, while also lending it a disturbing sexual undercurrent. The monster takes the tactile flesh and contorts its own mouth into a heart shape, thereby only offering the girl an abstract symbol of love.

The girl only receives something tangible when the monster rejects her by regurgitating a slobber-covered heart that breaks on impact. The now queasy monster lurches away, leaving the girl utterly alone. Left with nothing but a spew heart, the girl slathers it on her face to replace her lost flesh but in doing so she transforms into the monster she loved. Now she is the one emerging from the bushes, lumbering towards another wide-eyed youth.

At only three minutes long, Baby Grotesque does an excellent job.  Like a lot of DeForge’s work, the central metaphor is sketched out, allowing the audience to interpret it in different ways, while at the same remaining coherent enough to resonate on an emotional level. Befitting its title, Espinosa’s visual style mixes the cutesy with the grotesque in a way that quietly, yet profoundly, disturbs.

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DIRECTOR: Daniela Espinosa

WRITER: Daniela Espinosa

SOUND DESIGN: Rodrigo Barquera

SYNOPSIS: The peaceful life of a little girl gets interrupted by a disturbing yet charismatic monster. Laughs, tears and limbs get thrown away in the name of love.