12 years in the making and featuring the use of multiple animation styles – from beautiful paper-cut outs to simple black on white cel hand drawn to crude model stop motion – Consuming Spirits is a creaky, sometimes frustrating elegy for family, community, and the unspoken bonds that create such.

Following three lonely individuals all involved with the local paper of a small, decaying town, Consuming Spirits spends its first hour and a half floating around a shapeless series of tragedies. It opens with a nun being hit by a school bus and getting left in the woods. From there, characters and miseries drift across the screen, seemingly without purpose and sometimes explanation. It’s compelling by virtue of the sheer strangeness of it all, the animation giving the plights weight when the writing does not. But it still feels like a big pile of nothing for a long while.

And then, in the last half hour, writer/director/a ton of things pulls it all together and gives meaning to the bloated morass behind it. Over the course of those final minutes, the pain and heartbreak finds truth in its connections, and Consuming Spirits becomes a ghost story where the spirits (that punny title is really not great) are just the memories of people moved on.

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