California Institute of the Arts alum Henry Selick (Film/Video MFA 1977) stages a triumphant return to stop-motion animation with “Wendell & Wild,” a horror-comedy premiering on streaming service Netflix this past Halloween weekend.
Under his direction, the film stars Key & Peele’s Keegan-Michael Key as Wendell and Jordan Peele as Wild, two demonic brothers summoned from the underworld. Lyric Ross, as Kat Elliot, plays a teen girl residing in a rundown town and attending a Catholic school complete with a demon-expelling nun known as Sister Helly and her terrifying altar boys.
After its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sep. 11, Next Best Picture’s review of the film offered that “Selick once again proves his artistry in an awe-inspiring sub-genre of animation. The director’s signature spooky handcrafted style is crawling all over ‘Wendell & Wild,’ which introduces an exciting collaboration between Selick and co-writer Jordan Peele for a tale about inner demons and family healing.”
Selick had to overcome a few challenges himself in his return to film production. “Wendell & Wild,” his first feature film since 2009’s “Coraline,” was primarily produced remotely during the coronavirus pandemic, countless wildfires, and social and political unrest.
Selick’s previous work includes “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and “James and the Giant Peach” with fellow alum and film director Tim Burton.
In 2009, Selick served as animation director on filmmaker Wes Anderson’s “The Fantastic Mr. Fox.”
Under Pixar and Disney Studios, he is currently producing the live action film “A Tale Dark and Grimm,” an adaptation of the novel written by Adam Gidwitz and working with Marvel brother directors Anthony and Joe Russo on a TV adaptation of the video game “Little Nightmares.”
After studying art and science on the East Coast, Selick ventured west and enrolled at CalArts, where he produced two films that were both nominated for Student Academy Awards: “Phases” and “Tube Tales.”