Film Review: “Wendell and Wild”


Screengrab from: "Wendell and Wild"

“Wendell and Wild” released on Oct. 21, 2022 and was directed by Henry Selick. The film stars Lyric Ross as Kat, a 13 year-old girl who is accompanied by her two personal demons, Wendell and Wild (Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele respectivly).

Sierra Larson, News Reporter

“I was supposed to hate myself for the rest of my life. But now, I don’t have to. I’m a Hellmaiden with amazing friends. Even you, Wendell and Wild,” Kat said

This is quote from the very end of the stop-motion film “Wendell and Wild”, available now on Netflix. The quote describes a central plot point of the film: the main character Kat struggling with the death of her parents.

“Wendell and Wild” follows Kat, 13-year-old protagonist, as she returns to her home, Rust Bank, five years after the passing of her parents.

Kat’s design is so unique and modern. She wears these tall black boots with many clasps. She also has a variety of piercings, green hair and a modified school uniform.

I loved Kat’s design because I could see someone in the real-world wearing something just like it. Her makeup and piercings are beautiful as well, they make her feel like a real person making real choices of how she wants to look.

Rust Bank has changed since Kat was last there. Her parents’ brewery was destroyed in a fire and Klax Korp has taken over everything.

Throughout the film, Kat cannot seem to forgive herself for her parents’ death. She believes it was her scream that led to their car veering off a bridge, and, ultimately, her parents’ deaths.

There is one scene in particular that caught my eye during this part of the film. The car sinks deeper and deeper and young Kat is just floating underwater looking at it.

This scene has been in my head on replay since I watched the film. It just feels so raw.

Kat misses her parents terribly. In an interesting turn of events, she discovers she is a Hellmaiden, a person who can summon demons to the land of the living.

Kat’s personal demons are none other than demon brothers Wendell and Wild. They promise Kat that they will bring back her parents if she summons them from the underworld.

Wendell and Wild’s designs are also captivating. They look exactly like their voice actors, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele.

Kat agrees with the demons, and she is marked by them. Her hand now has the face of a demon on it.

While the film has gotten mixed reviews from critics, ranging from offbeat to stunning, it is still worth a watch. It has major representation; the story itself centers on a young black girl who is finding her way in the world. (Screengrab from: “Wendell and Wild”)

The demon mark controls Kat and in order to overcome it she realizes she must acknowledge and take ownership of her own traumatic memories.

Kat calls the demons above ground, but things do not go as planned. The demon brothers are so invested in building their Dream Faire, that they no longer want to resurrect her parents.

Kat’s parents are brought back to life by another party and Kat gets to see them one more time. Her parents show Kat that Rust Bank is still worth saving from Klax Korp.

In an incredible, visually appealing and emotional scene, we see Kat battle against the physical representation of her memories.

It’s built of her dad’s old boombox Cyclops and the car her parents died in. Chains connect them together. This may be my favorite scene of the entire film.

The way it shows Kat’s mental struggles as both a visual and physical representation is brilliant.

Kat, with the help of her parents, classmates and faculty at Rust Bank Catholic are able to stop Klax Korp from destroying the rest of Rust Bank.

One of the final scenes of the film shows Kat showing her parents what the future looks like. She describes how Rust Bank is coming back to life and how people are coming back home.

This is a very special scene. Kat has finally accepted her memories. She has even gotten to say goodbye to her parents.

This scene made me very emotional. Kat finally knows her place in the world and what she can do in the future. Kat also knows that she has friends. She is not alone anymore.

Overall, the movie shows the importance of community and the acknowledgement and acceptance of the past. “Wendell and Wild” also emphasizes the importance of parents protecting their children.

While the film has gotten mixed reviews from critics, ranging from offbeat to stunning, it is still worth a watch. It has major representation; the story itself centers on a young black girl who is finding her way in the world.

The voice acting in this film is very well done as well. Particularly, the voice actress of Kat, Lyric Ross. Ross does an incredible job portraying Kat’s teenage-angst and wide range of emotions.

More representation is found in a classmate named Raúl, who is transgender. Another character, Ms. Hunter, is indigenous.

Kat even struggles with panic attacks throughout the film, which is not something that is seen in media enough. It shows the reality of how raw and sudden moments of panic are.

Kat’s panic attacks made her a very relatable character to me, as someone who also has panic attacks. They also add a sense of reality into a film that is largely fictional.

The film tackles two other real-world problems: peer pressure and the school to prison pipeline. This film does an excellent job of blending these real issues into the fictional story.

While the plot and characters in “Wendell and Wild” are different from Henry Selick’s other pictures, those who enjoyed “Coraline” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas” will enjoy this film as well.