After years of leaving animation fans wanting more of his delightfully terrifying feature films, Oscar nominated director Henry Selick is finally back in what is already being called, “The animation highlight of the year.” Wendell and Wild is Selick’s first feature in over a decade since the smash hit, Coraline, with The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach before that. Now, after years of working on films that fell apart in pre-production for one reason or another, Selick returns to the big screen with an original project boasting huge promise.
The stop motion horror-comedy combines Selick’s talents with those of Keegan-Michael Key and his “Key & Peele” co-creator-turned-Oscar-winning filmmaker, Jordan Peele. The script was written by Selick and Peele; acclaimed Argentinian artist Pablo Lobato designed the characters.
The film’s synopsis describes it as a story about, “Two scheming demon brothers Wendell (Keegan-Michael Key) and Wild (Peele) who enlist the aid of 13-year-old Kat Elliot–a tough teen with a load of guilt, to summon them to the Land of the Living. But what Kat demands in return leads to a brilliantly bizarre and comedic adventure like no other, an animated fantasy that defies the laws of life and death, all told through the hand-made artistry of stop motion.”
If that premise doesn’t hint at a good deal more creepiness to come, then check out the movie’s first official clip (released as part of Netflix Geek Week), in which a curious teddy bear is discovered in a locked-up drawer. The Coraline-like glowing eyes of the creature alone might just be the stuff of young nightmares even before the film is out.
Speaking at the 2020 Annecy International Animation Film Festival (via Variety), Selick explained that Peele, in particular, played a major role in shaping the final version of the story:
“I reached out to [Peele] and talked about the idea for the project, and meeting and getting to collaborate with him as well as Keegan-Michael Key, has been a dream come true for me. ‘Wendell and Wild’ was an old idea for me, and Jordan wanted to come on as more than just voice talent. He wanted to collaborate, to be a producer, to work on story and writing, and the project has changed in so many good ways as a result of working with him.”
Look for Wendell and Wild this October on Netflix.