If there’s any studio that consistently hits the jackpot, it’s animation hub Laika: Their five animated films—Coraline, ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls, Kubo and the Two Strings and Missing Link—have all been nominated for an Academy Award for best animated feature. Now, the studio is back with Portland-set stop-motion film Wildwood.
Wildwood is based on the children’s fantasy book of the same name by The Decemberists frontman Colin Meloy and artist Carson Ellis. The film takes place in the mysterious, otherworldly realm called—you guessed it—Wildwood. Wildwood exists just outside of Portland, and it’s a no-go area. You’re not supposed to know about it, and you’re definitely not supposed to go there. (Ring any bells? The secret door in Coraline, perhaps?) But that doesn’t stop Prue McKeel, who has no choice but to venture into the unknown when her little brother is kidnapped and taken into the depths of this mysterious world. What follows is an unpredictable world filled with fairytale mystique—for better or for worse.
Attached to direct the project is Travis Knight. Knight is the co-founder and lead animator at Laika, recently directing Kubo and the Two Strings (2016) and Bumblebee (2018). Caleb Deschanel (The Right Stuff) is set to shoot the film, and while it’s always exciting to see the master at work, what’s even more exciting is that this will be his first ever stab at animation.
Although that’s all the information we have about Wildwood (so far), based on what we’ve seen from the studio—the chilling parallel universe in Coraline, for example, or those creepy fluorescent ghosts in ParaNorman—we’re pretty confident in assuming that Laika will certainly be bringing its delightfully unsettling style to this vibrant story. We’re not sure if it’s going to be buttons-for-eyes unsettling, but hey, if it is, we’re certainly here for it.
Here’s a first look at the film: