"This isn't your Father's animation"
We Are the Strange is an independent feature-length animated film, made by a guy who called himself M dot Strange. It premiered at Sundance in 2007 and has since been released on DVD. It can also be seen for free on M dot Strange's YouTube channel here.
The animation is best described as Medium Blending (although the filmmaker uses the term, str8nime): The environments were computer animated, but most of the characters were stop-motion puppets (though there were at least 3 exceptions in the main cast).
One particularly remarkable thing about the film is that M dot Strange wrote, produced, directed, and animated the whole movie by himself. Apparently the only help he had was with the music, some of the art design, and the voice acting.
The plot: A young resident of Stopmo City named Blue runs away to a nearby forest to get away from an abusive boss/boyfriend. There, she meets a lonely outcast named eMMM. Having a doll's head in lieu of a real head, eMMM cannot speak or change his facial expression. His means of communication is limited to body language and random squeaks. Meanwhile, two criminals, Rain and Ori, are back in the city, wandering around and fighting monsters for...some reason. eMMM convinces Blue to return to the city with him so that they can go buy some ice cream together. Then some more monsters attack for...some reason. It all climaxes in a huge battle between two Giant Mechas over a devastated cityscape.
In other words, this is as far from a conventional story as you're likely to find (hard-to-follow doesn't even begin to describe it). In fact, now might be a good time to mention that one of the fimmaker's main influences was David Lynch.
- Above the Ruins
- Action Girl: Blue, at the end
- Adventure Duo
- Rain and Ori
- Later on, Blue and eMMM
- Always Night
- Animesque: Blue
- Anti-Hero: Rain
- Apologizes a Lot: Ori apologizes to Rain for not helping him after Rain defeats a rival/monster(?) and protects him from a trap after said opponent dies. He does it so much that he gets both of them captured/attacked by another monster
- Aside Glance: eMMMbot right before punching SinisteRRR.
- Attention Whore: The WOOOOO! monster that literally kicks eMMMM off the dance floor and starts making other noises that sound like "YEAH" and " WHAT NOW". it gets eaten by a slime monster afterwards...and comes back
- Badass: Rain
- Badass Boast
Rain and Ori: You will never defeat us
- It should be noted that it sounds way more badass when Rain says it than when Ori says it
eMMMbot: I am an unbeatable robot.
- Bald of Evil
- Barbie Doll Anatomy: Him
- Bash Brothers: Rain and Ori
- Be Yourself
- Big Bad: Him
- Big Damn Heroes: Rain does this when he saves Blue from the WOOOOO! monster.
Rain: Yeah — wooo.
- Black Eyes of Evil
- Broken Bird: Blue has shades of this underneath the Shrinking Violet.
- Call to Adventure: A trip to an ice cream parlor is as good of an excuse as any.
- Calling Your Attacks: Ori calls out the names of his forms as he shape-shifts into them.
- Cast as a Mask: Possibly, considering that it might actually be HIM talking whenever the SinisteRRR arcade game speaks
- Cast of Snowflakes
- Cheshire Cat Grin
- Chiptune: much of the sound effects and music are this.
- The Chosen One
- Cloudcuckoolander: Ori.
- Computer Virus: Him (maybe); this is implied due to his glitchy movement, his ability to control robots (they never do exactly show where the cockpit is on his robot), and his tone of speech.
- Constructed World
- Crapsack World: Stopmo City.
- Creepy Child: eMMM
- Creepy Cool Crosses
- Curb Stomp Battle
- Rain in his first fight with the monsters
- eMMMbot versus SinisteRRR, round 1, which actually makes sense
- SinisteRRR whenever he fights anybody other than eMMMbot
- Cute Mute
- Daddy Had a Good Reason For Abandoning You: He was trying to save you from monsters.
- Dark Is Evil: HIM, SinisteRRR, and the monsters
- Dark Is Not Evil: eMMM, The Pasteur, Rain, and The Cult of the Strange.
- Darker and Edgier: Watching the movie with the DVD's "Nightmare" soundtrack as opposed to watching it with the other three optional soundtracks.
- Death Trap
- Despair Event Horizon
- eMMM crosses over this after he wins his fight against SinisteRRR, but Blue is able to get him to cross back
- Disappeared Dad
- The Disease That Shall Not Be Named
- Domestic Abuser: Him
- Downer Ending: Subverted.
- Dramatic Thunder: leads to a thunderstorm that incinerates a monster that finds Blue and eMMMM in the Ice cream shop they visit with a bolt of lightning.
- DVD Bonus Content: The DVD contains two additional soundtracks that you can switch to as you're watching. Each one has the option of turning off all other sounds and just hearing the music.
- In addition, you can also switch to the aptly-named "Nightmare" soundtrack, which basically distorts every single bit of sound in the film and makes it into more of a straight-horror movie.
- Early-Bird Cameo: eMMMbot can be seen in the background during Rain's battle with the guy who's cramping his style.
- eMMM, Rain is Your Father
- Effeminate Misogynistic Guy: HIM is a literally pink guy who is shown in the intro abusing a literally blue girl, all while claiming that women are "tools" for him to pleasure himself with and "nothing more."
- Eldritch Abomination: Many, if not all, of Stopmo's monsters are these. Special props go to the cemetery cyclops monster and the Big Bad.
- Empathic Weapon: Ori.
- Enemy Rising Behind
- Establishing Character Moment: Ori and Rain pretty much solidify just what kind of people they are during their first fight scene.
- Ethereal Choir
- Everybody's Dead, Dave Subverted.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: Actually makes sense, considering the heavy video game influence.
- Evil Albino: Him
- Evil Gloating: Him and Rain both like doing this
- Evil Laugh: Rain, Ori, and eMMMbot
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: It's a strange movie
- Faking the Dead: SinisteRRR and Him
- Family-Unfriendly Death
- Flying Brick
- Gainax Ending: It's pretty upbeat, but it's still insane.
- Ghost Town
- Happy Dance: eMMMM does this when Blue is playing a video game with a really catchy song.
- Heroic BSOD: Blue seemingly gets a lot; one being when eMMMM let's her play his Gameboy. She remebers aspects of her past as shown by the drawings of her a various ages during said moment.
- Heroic Sociopath: Rain and Ori
- Hero-Killer: HIM
- Humongous Mecha / Instant Awesome, Just Add Mecha: At the end of the film. Why is it there? Because it's awesome.
- The Hunter: Rain and Ori's job is to do this and protect the city.
- I Am a God: The Big Bad says this after his robot emerges
- I Have Many Names: HIM.
- I Shall Taunt You: Rain and HIM might do this to their opponents. The film doesn't make it clear whether they're using it as a tactic or whether they're just doing it for the heck of it.
- In the Hood
- It Got Worse
- Jaws First Person Perspective: The movie switches to this when a monster is attacking Rain and Ori
- Jerkass: Besides HIM, we have the WOOOO! Monster, who seems tailor-made for the Kick the Dog trope.
- Karmic Death: HIM dies after being punched by the same girl that he had punched at the beginning of the movie
- Kick the Dog
- La Résistance
- Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: The Shadowy Pixelated characters who are seen wandering around are actually famous video game characters from the 80s (Mega Man, Pac-Man, etc.). In the original release, M dot Strange just used the unaltered versions of the characters, but - due to legal reasons - filled them in with black before the commercial release.
- Le Film Artistique: Despite having a lot more action sequences than these types of films usually have, it still falls squarely into this category.
- Left for Dead: eMMM
- Like Father, Like Son
- Lonely Rich Kid: One could arguably say eMMM is this or at least some kind of variation. Sure, he's an orphan, and sure, he lives in the wild, but he also has a ridiculous amount of toys and posessions (like a rich kid would); toys and possessions that he'd gladly give up for a real friend.
- Lovable Coward: Blue
- MacGuffin: The things a guy will do just to get some ice cream.
- Mad Artist: M dot Strange himself.
- Magic Skirt
- Meaningful Name: Blue and HIM
- Mind Screw: The whole dang film.
- Missing Mom
- Mooks: The monsters.
- The Most Dangerous Video Game
- Most Definitely Not a Villain: The posters in the ice cream shoppe are an unnerving, as opposed to humorous, use of this trope.
- Mr. Exposition: Rain, Him, and The Pasteur
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: Possibly justified. One interpretation of the film could be that HIM knew of Blue's powers all along and abused her for the sole purpose of keeping them from manifesting and being used against him. Once Blue was pushed to her breaking point, all of his efforts to suppress them came undone.
- Non-Human Sidekick: Ori
- Non-Standard Character Design
- Not So Different: Even though HIM is apparently killed, a now distraught eMMM gets black eyes (just like HIM had), implying that he might become the new HIM, but then Blue comes back...and so does HIM!
- Odd Couple: Blue and eMMM. She's an Ineffectual Loner with serious self-esteem issues and is afraid of...everything. He's an excitable and affectionate little boy who doesn't seem to even understand the concepts of fear or danger. They fight monsters!
- One-Winged Angel: SinisteRRR. It goes from being an arcade game to a giant demonic robot
- Opening Narration
- Our Monsters Are Different
- Out with a Bang: One of the monsters kills its victim by shoving it's over-sized dick all the way through their chest. Mercifully, we only see it as a silhouette, but still...
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: The Pasteur
- Parental Abandonment
- Perpetual Frowner: Blue
- Perpetual Smiler: Him
- Plot Threads
- Preacher Man: The Pasteur
- Primal Fear: The movie feeds viewers this by the bucketful.
- Punched Across the Room
- Punny Name: Stopmo City. Get it? One of the animation styles the film uses is- You know what? Never mind.
- Rain of Blood: An early scene does this and throws in a bit of Surreal Horror too.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech
- Religion of Evil: Subverted. The Cult of Strange is very creepy, but they're actually the good guys. Played straight in the sense that Word of God refers to them as evil in the commentary, but that doesn't really match up with how they act in the movie proper
- Rule of Cool: The film's world seems to function entirely on this...
- Rule of Scary: ...and this.
- Shape Shifter: Ori, the Origami man.
- Shut UP, Hannibal: "You talk too much."
- Shout-Out: Video games from the 80s are referenced all over the place.
- Especially Sinistar, which, unlike the other shout outs, actually ties into the plot.
- If you listen closely to the background music when Him tells eMMMM "Welcome to your doom" a vocal is sung. Some of the bars are similar to the Doc Gerbil chase scene music from Courage the Cowardly Dog.
- The controls for the giant robot are clearly inspired by Wario Ware. Word of God even admits this.
- Shrinking Violet: Blue
- Shy Blue-Haired Girl: Blue
- The Smurfette Principle: Blue. Not counting the robot nanny (who only appears in a flashback) she is the only female character in the main cast.
- Sole Survivor: Subverted
- So What Do We Do Now?: Leads eMMM to his Despair Event Horizon after his fight with SinisteRRR.
- Sound-Only Death: The cat who is used to lure Rain into a trap.
- Stockholm Syndrome: The prologue mentions that Rain kidnapped Ori. You really wouldn't know that by how they treat each other in the movie proper.
- The Stoic: The Pasteur
- Straw Critic: The cat who "hates everything" in the intro to the free online release
Oancitizen: "I love having my opinions reduced to a single lolcat."
- Surreal Horror: The Forest of Still Life.
- Survival Horror: A non-game example, obviously.
- Take That, Critics!: One of the trailers made fun of people who didn't enjoy the movie
- Third Line, Some Waiting
- This Is Sparta: Rain does this at least once, and eMMM later does it as well through the eMMMBot's speech. Like father, like son...
- Too Dumb to Live: Ori at some points and debateably Blue when she enters the "House Of Horror". considering whats happened in Stopmo so far, that would be the last place anyone would visit.
- Took a Level in Badass: Blue. Goes from a moaning emo to a robot-killing Action Girl
- The Unintelligible: eMMM
- Unstoppable Rage: Rain, once The Big Bad tells him that eMMM is dead.
- Viewers Are Geniuses
- What Do You Mean It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: Quite possibly the most extreme case in the history of this trope. You've seriously gotta wonder how honest the creator was being when he denied their playing any part in the making of the film.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: The Cult of the Strange
- Who's Laughing Now?
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Ori is deathly afraid of cemeteries and leaves rain to face the Cemetery cyclops monster by himself.
- Wolverine Claws: Rain
- X Meets Y: Has been described by the filmmaker as The Nightmare Before Christmas meets Monsters, Inc. on his YouTube channel and as Brothers Quay meets Dragonball Z in an old section of the blog that was put on the DVD. A more accurate description would probably be David Lynch meets Dragonball Zmeets Power Rangers.
- Or ReBoot meets batshit insanity.
- You Are Not Alone
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness