Features and Columns · Movies

How ‘The Wolf House’ Uses Fantasy to Confront the Horrors of History

Warren Zevon be like “awoooo wolf houses of historical trauma.”
The Wolf House Horror
Kimstim Films
By  · Published on April 28th, 2022

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that takes a look at how the animated 2018 film The Wolf House uses a fantastical lens to contend with real-world horrors.

While The Wolf House certainly looks like it crawled out of the same hell dimension as the work of Czech multi-media artist Jan Švankmajer, the Chilean stop-motion animated horror film premiered in 2018. It’s comforting, in a way, to know that other folks have taken up Švankmajer’s nightmare fuel mantle. We’re in capable, terrifying hands.

Directed by Cristobal León and Joaquín Cociña, “The Wolf House” tells the story of María (voiced by Amalia Kassai), a young woman who flees from a Nazi agricultural commune in Augusto Pinochet’s Chile. Escaping to a shack deep in the woods, María finds two pigs … who steadily transform into human children. Things only get more disturbing from there!

There are many ways of digesting The Wolf House. In one sense, the film purports to be a meta-fictional product of the cult itself, weaponizing the moralism of fairy tales to indoctrinate new members while keeping its existing flock in line. Indeed, for those with little or partial knowledge of the abuses that took place at the Colonia Dignidad during Pinochet’s military dictatorship, The Wolf House is like a glimpse into someone else’s nightmare; sparse on details but clear as a bell in its traumatic resonance.

The video essay below digs deeper into the film’s themes, particularly the weaponization of animation and fantastical storytelling to create its politically disturbing story. If you’ve been waiting for a sign to bite the bullet and knock this one off your watch list, this is it!

The following video essay contains story spoilers for The Wolf House.

Watch “The Wolf House – Fairy Tale Reflections on Real-World Horror”:

Who made this?

This video essay on how The Wolf House uses fantasy to deal with real-world horrors is by You Have Been Watching Films. United Kingdom-based writer Oliver Bagshaw produces the channel, creating video essays on an assortment of movies, from cult to classic strains of cinema history. You can subscribe to their YouTube channel here.

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Based in the Pacific North West, Meg enjoys long scrambles on cliff faces and cozying up with a good piece of 1960s eurotrash. As a senior contributor at FSR, Meg's objective is to spread the good word about the best of sleaze, genre, and practical effects.