Isolation and Secrets in “My Animal”
A feeling of isolation permeates My Animal, a stylish queer werewolf film set in the small Northern Ontario town of Timmins. The story revolves around Heather, an outcast teenager from a family of local pariahs who shares a monstrous secret with her father, Henry. Heather and Henry are werewolves who sequester themselves in locked bedrooms during the full moon to ensure they don’t harm anyone. Heather’s attraction to women further sets her apart from the community. However, her life takes a turn when she meets Jonny, the new girl in town, and they develop a deep connection. Yet, their relationship faces complications due to Jonny’s boyfriend and the closed-mindedness of their provincial environment.
A Tale of Loneliness and Repression
Director Jacqueline Castel skillfully enhances the film’s atmosphere of loneliness and repression through her visual choices. Heather and Jonny are often framed in empty spaces, and even when people are present, they feel more threatening than comforting. Heather’s fantasies and memories are depicted in a surreal black void with vibrant lighting. The color red is prominently used throughout the film, symbolizing blood, danger, and lust.
A Stylish Blend of Music Video Aesthetics and Horror
Castel’s background in directing music videos shines through in My Animal. The film prioritizes style and emotion over a complex plot. Delirious point-of-view shots reminiscent of Evil Dead take the audience on a thrilling ride through snowy woods. The transformation of Jonny into a werewolf is cleverly obscured, emphasizing the metaphor rather than the monster itself.
The Canadian Touch and Compelling Performances
The film’s Canadian setting adds a unique element, featuring popular Canadian actor Scott Thompson as Jonny’s father. The chemistry between Bobbi Salvör Menuez and Amandla Stenberg provides a strong emotional core to the movie. Stephen McHattie’s portrayal of Henry adds warmth to the story. While the trajectory of the narrative may feel familiar, it reflects the recurring cycles of oppression and liberation experienced by queer individuals in small towns.