Written and directed by Josh Funk, a man (Dustin Vaught) wakes up locked in a strange bathroom where something is lurking behind the walls.
Surprisingly, the appearance of puppets is a growing phenomenon in film, especially in those that aren’t aimed at kids, creating a quirky subgenre of puppet horror and gross out comedy. Thankfully this film falls more in the former and entirely avoids falling prey to the typical over eager sleazy comedy or gratuitous violence to push a harsh contrast, which nobody really ends up enjoying. Instead it takes a simple but smart concept of puppets rising from nowhere to taunt this poor man and creates seven minutes of funny escape style horror.
It’s well written, there’s no dialogue and it’s built purely around the tension and intrigue which the progression builds. It’s impressively gripping, yet even more impressively, it never loses a sense of fun without crossing over into silly territory. It’s mostly due to that tension, there’s a good dose of mystery at work here, which is blended with the one tight location set-up which keeps everything strongly focused and contained. The only potential weakness of the script is the ending, it feels unintentionally open to interpretation, rather than giving a clear impression of what it’s going for but it doesn’t dampen the fun.
Josh Funk’s directorial skills are matched with the strength of his writing. It’s just the right amount of claustrophobic, it gives the trapped feeling without staying still long enough for it to become overwhelming. The location choice is a great one, the bathroom has a fairly classic 70s design which provides a good use of colour to the mix, there’s also a slight sinister connotation to the style. The framing has a superb energy to it, you can’t quite decide what’s at work here but tripping on acid is one fitting perspective, almost akin to the ayahuasca Barbie scene in Booksmart.
The overall design and use of animation is fantastic, it has a touch of nostalgia and maybe a little of Evil Dead. Again, it’s something that’s quite simple but executed particularly well to make a hugely better impact than going for overly detailed effects. All of which is then supported by Dustin Vaught’s performance, he’s very genuine and relatable. He provides a great perspective, experiencing the strange happenings along with him as he tries to decipher what’s going on. Especially as there’s very little to learn of him, you could take a few clues from the general style of outfit and grooming but there’s nothing definitive to point you in a specific direction, which gives him a very sympathetic edge.
The Fuzzies is fun, gripping and likely one of the most well done uses of puppets in comedy, horror in recent years. It doesn’t try to overwhelm its viewers with a seedy sense of humour or a penchant for gore, it’s carefully chosen to keep both a playful air and a solid, consistent tension. It’s well written, directed and edited, it’s sincerely impressive to tackle a concept that could have been wildly silly but instead by making smart choices in the progression, style and mystery creates something entertaining that can appeal to all.