While mourning the loss of a loved one, a young boy takes on the scariest slide at the water park.
There are many examples of animation, particularly animated films with a child-centric aesthetic, being the perfect vehicles to explore emotionally complex themes. Writer/director Uri Lotan uses the basic premise of a boy plucking up the courage to take on a huge waterslide to do exactly that.
Lotan’s decision to adopt an animation style synonymous with children’s entertainment is something of a masterstroke as it encourages the audience to settle into the film with a childlike threshold for the drama they are about to experience. The exaggerated whimsey of the older kids in the story being practically adult-sized and the titular Black Slide being so crazily convoluted that there is no way it could actually function as a slide, serves to communicate just how intimidating our protagonist Eviah (voiced by Ivri Shai) finds the world around him.
A daunting world, presented with such visual innocence serves to put us on edge when events start occurring that do not fit with the style we have been introduced to. A cut on the arm happening in a grittier film would not have the same impact as Eviah slicing open his forearm while jumping a fence at the top of the movie. Details like this clue us in to the fact that Eviah’s journey will centre around him experiencing things he is not yet ready for. This is most openly expressed in his apprehension to ride the forbidden waterslide with his friend Tsuf (voiced by Rom Shemesh), who relentlessly pushes him to conquer his fear.
It does not take long for the film to reveal that the mission to conquer the Black Slide is merely a symbolic gesture, serving another challenge for Eviah, that while more understated is certainly a much tougher hill to climb. The symbolic imagery that the film gradually applies moves us from the whimsical to the hypnotic. Lotan and the animation team create an utterly enveloping visual journey as the film shifts from being about a child being afraid to ride a waterslide to a child being forced to confront grief and loss way before he is ready.
The transition from primal fear to genuine vulnerability is handled wonderfully as the intensity of the world around Eviah is amped up the closer he gets to the mouth of the slide. This is aided by some excellent work on the sound design as the excited screams of the older kids jumping down the slide are distorted into screams of horror.
This is presented in parallel with the slow revelation of what is happening within Eviah’s family and the real challenge of grief and loss that he will have no choice but to confront. The character design of Eviah being small and baby-like, drives home just how tall an order dealing with his impending loss will be. Consequently, his innocence and vulnerability serve to get us to root for him that much more.
The simplicity of the style visual style is contrasted by the level of detail, which massively adds to how immersive the experience is. It also opens us up to the visually stunning finale, which perfectly delivers the emotional core of Eviah’s journey. All of this culminates in an emotionally raw conclusion, delivered with such meticulous craft and narrative empathy that it is impossible to file the experience under the simple label of ‘entertainment’. This 11-minute battle with fear and grief is a short film experience that will affect you in ways you will not expect and leave you pondering your own seemingly insurmountable challenges and what will drive you to take a leap into your own Black Slide.
Studio: The New Yorker/Flipbook Studio/The Hive Studio | Year: 2021 | Genre: Animation/Drama | Duration: 10 Mins | Suitability: Advisory
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