Watch the Fantastic Short David Cronenberg Is Turning Into a Feature

By  · Published on September 10th, 2015

Geneva Film Co.

The vulpine characters of James Stewart’s Foxed! are not as fantastic as Wes Anderson’s charismatic animated protagonist, but this stop-motion short is still pretty wonderful. Here the foxes are evil creatures, sly for their trickery more than their charm, and they’re soon to be feature film stars thanks David Cronenberg and his Cosmopolis and Maps to the Stars producer, Martin Katz. The Hollywood Reporter announced the deal back in December, at which time the short was just coming off a very successful festival run and was available on iTunes. Now it’s been uploaded to Vimeo for free, so we can all get more excited about the expanded version due in two years.

If the feature is anything like what you see above, it’s going to be a great addition to the list of disturbing kids movies. It’s also going to be another adaptation of a short that was clearly only a preview for that feature in the first place (Stewart admits it’s both trailer/calling card/proof of concept and standalone work). In the wake of this summer’s Pixels, though, I’d rather know what we’re in for with a faithful continuation of a set-up reel than a studio’s big-budget reworking of a good, original idea into something that is anything but. Still, Foxed! the short isn’t exactly a complete film that stands on its own. It’s a scene, one that itself will probably be extended along with the story teased in its brief three minutes.

Watching the short on Vimeo (or iTunes), we don’t get to see Foxed! as it’s intended to be seen, in 3D. But even without knowing how well the format is used here, I am still very excited about how it will be respected and employed for the feature. Stewart is – like myself, even if I haven’t appreciated anything for a while – a large defender of 3D done right. He also worked on one of the most significant and effective 3D releases ever made, Werner Herzog’s documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams. Given that Foxed! involves subterranean mines, I am confident that this will be a 3D feature similarly concerned with contour and layers.

The short is written and co-directed by Nev Bezaire, a veteran of Aardman Animation, and that’s reason to not be surprised with how expressive the characters, particularly the eyes are in Foxed! But it’s also hard to tell what her full involvement was and whether she’s a part of the team making the feature. She’s curiously absent from promotional and behind-the-scenes videos and the film’s website barely mentions her as a prominent part of the production. Maybe it’s lead animator Chris Pounds (also an effects artist on TV series including Arrow and The 100) deserves the recognition. Anyway, the point is that the animation direction here is superb, so vividly dramatic that I don’t think we even need all of Athena Karkanis’s vocal performance, except in order for the contrast between good and bad Emily to come out.

Foxed! the feature will be about the kidnapping of all the kids from a village, as they’re forced to mind “Blue Goo” by the nefarious foxes. Each child is also replaced in their home by a fox that, to adults, looks and sounds yet doesn’t necessarily act like their son or daughter. It’s a very Roald Dahl like premise, which makes sense since his works have previously been good fodder for stop-motion features, including Anderson’s The Fantastic Mr. Fox. The goal is for it to be released in 2017, and hopefully that’s not too ambitious a time frame (it took over a year to make this little film) because it’s one I’m now highly anticipating.

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.