Credit: GKIDS
by Luke Gorham Featured Film Horizon Line

Unicorn Wars — Alberto Vásquez

March 10, 2023

Alberto Vázquez is the sleeper MVP of the film animation world. Japanese auteurs like Makato Shinkai, Masaaki Yuasa, and Mamoru Hosoda have comfortably slid into the sphere of highly-anticipated “serious cinema”; Pixar continues to precariously bob around the drain they’ve been circling for a while; and the umpteenth entries of popular anime franchises reliably fill theaters across the globe. But Vázquez’s work has proven a singular, refreshing presence across this past decade-plus. Breaking out on an international scale in 2015 with debut feature Birdboy: The Forgotten Children — a macabre but movingly beautiful, eco-themed nightmare of post-apocalyptic imagery and existential creep — the director (and illustrator/graphic novelist) has since stuck to shorts, evolving both his visual palette and his thematic ambitions. Unicorn Wars, his sophomore feature, hits U.S. theaters this week, courtesy of GKIDS, and with it the director delivers an altogether bolder, more sensorial affair, confrontational and brutal in ways the eerie but sweet-underneath Birdboy wasn’t quite.

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Published as part of InRO Weekly — Volume 1, Issue 10.