We Are The Strange is an independent feature-length animated film. It was made by a guy who called himself M dot Strange that premiered in Sundance in 2007 and has since been released on DVD. It can also be seen for free on YouTube 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 three 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 filmmaker's main influences was David Lynch.
Fun fact: L33t and Nadsat were among the many optional subtitles made available on the DVD.
His second movie, Heart String Marionette, was released June 2012.
This Work Contains Examples Of
- Always Night: Its always night time, with no sign of daylight.
- Animesque: Blue's design is of a stereotypical anime girl. At the end of the movie everyone is fighting with giant robots.
- 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 Boast:
- Rain and Ori: You will never defeat us.
eMMMbot: I am an unbeatable robot.
- It should be noted that it sounds way more badass when Rain says it than when Ori says it.
- Bald of Evil: Him is bald and lacks body hair of any kind. All he's got are his eyebrows.
- Black Eyes of Evil: Him. eMMM gets these after his Despair Event Horizon, which raises some questions about Him's past.
- 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.
- 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.
- Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: He was trying to save you from monsters.
- Dark Is Not Evil: eMMM, The Pasteur, Rain, and The Cult of the Strange are all dark or intensely creepy characters that nonetheless oppose HIM.
- Despair Event Horizon: eMMM crosses over this after he wins his fight against SinisteRRR, but Blue is able to get him to cross back.
- 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.
- A second one happens in the finale when the two mechas meet each other.
- 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.
- 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".
- 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 remembers aspects of her past as shown by the drawings of her a various ages during said moment.
- Humongous Mecha: The climax has a giant mecha fighting a giant monster. Why is it there? Because it's awesome.
- 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.
- "Jaws" First-Person Perspective: The movie switches to this when a monster is attacking Rain and Ori.
- Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: The Shadowy Pixelated characters who are seen wandering around are actually famous video game characters from the 80s (including Mega Man and Pac-Man). 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.
- 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 possessions (like a rich kid would); toys and possessions that he'd gladly give up for a real friend.
- A Match Made in Stockholm: The prologue mentions that Rain kidnapped Ori. You really wouldn't know that by how they treat each other in the movie proper.
- Meaningful Name: "Blue", a depressed emo and "HIM", a chauvinistic and abusive boyfriend.
- The Most Dangerous Video Game: SinisteRRR is an evil arcade game that (possibly) acts as a watchdog and alarm for the Big Bad and later transforms into a Humongous Mecha who proceeds to kill off all but 3 of the main cast.
- Most Definitely Not a Villain: The monsters are a rare creepy example of this trope. In the empty ice cream shoppe, there are rather odd-looking posters which try to pass both the shoppe and the townspeople off as normal.
- 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.
- One-Winged Angel: SinisteRRR. It goes from being an arcade game to a giant demonic robot.
- Punched Across the Room: eMMMbot punches SinisteRRR across the freaking town in the climax
- Punny Name: Stopmo City. Get it? One of the animation styles the film uses is- You know what? Never mind.
- 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.
- Scenery Porn: When something terrifying, distracting, or just plain gross isn't happening on-screen, you just might notice how hautingly beautiful some of the locations are.
- 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 WarioWare. Word of God even admits this.
- Sound-Only Death: The cat who is used to lure Rain into a trap.
- 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. Toys and strange machines are scattered haphazardly all around, and then, we're introduced to a rather unnerving stopmotion Creepy Child with a doll's head.
- Take That, Critics!: One of the trailers made fun of people who didn't enjoy the movie.
- 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. She starts out as a justifiably-mopey emo, but turns into a robot-killing Action Girl by the end of the movie.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Ori is deathly afraid of cemeteries and leaves rain to face the Cemetery cyclops monster by himself.
- X Meets Y: Has been described by the filmmaker as The Nightmare Before Christmas meets Monsters, Inc. on his YouTube channel.