Gnome in the Haunted Castle (2012) (DVD)

Director F. Sudol is someone who is a one man creative force. After directing, animating, and voicing three popular animated horror films, F. Sudol abandoned his former style in favor of computer animation. Even though Sudol completely quit the former animated style for telling his stories, “Gnome in the Haunted Castle” still very much feels like an F. Sudol production. The music feels much like the type we’ve come to expect from his past films, there is the presence of zombies, and Mr. Sudol voices the characters himself. This time though, “Gnome in the Haunted Castle” acts as a gateway horror film for the young audiences who appreciate ambition and effort.

Made on very little and in a short time, F. Sudol continues to prove he can make a damn good feast for audiences on little supplies. F. Sudol’s adventure clocks in at under an hour, but it’s still rather entertaining and a great experiment, in spite of its flaws. Gnome is the last gnome of the land and spends most of his days gardening and battling evil monsters who try to invade his home. Though he is the last of his kind, he is not afraid to battle any demon that enters his path. One day the evil Pumpkin Man arranges to have Gnome’s magic gem stolen.

Now with only a short time to retrieve before he turns in to stone forever, Gnome makes the trek to Pumpkin Man’s castle, confronting all sorts of classic villains including zombies, mummies, witches, reapers, and wolfmen in the process. Sudol seems to be working on the method of computer animation, thus “Gnome” feels more like he’s learning rather than offering an animated adventure for his audience. The Gnome’s adventure is fascinating as he displays a cunning and courage that makes him worth rooting for. Especially when being able to shrink items for his own usage. Sudol has a clear idea of what kind of world he’s unveiling and has a good time putting Gnome through the ringer.

Sadly, the movie is very lacking in characters and for a long time there isn’t a single character but Gnome on-screen who spends most of the film talking to himself. As for Pumpkin Man’s grand plan, I never really felt impressed by it, thus his whole deviousness felt forced. “Gnome in the Haunted Castle” is a quality animated adventure from Sudol, in spite of the inherent flaws, and will surely please more experimental viewers. Especially the ones who want to see computer animation in 3D. I hope we see more Gnome in the future. While flawed, and lacking in strong supporting characters, F. Sudol offers an animated film for Halloween that’s unique, original, and definitely something that he built with love and imagination. I suggest it for anyone in the mood for an adventure or Halloween festivities.

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