Gabriel Ponniah, Editor In Chief
Austin Alternative Screen Scene
Every dog guardian is familiar with the experience of watching their pet dream.
As little paws aspire towards a scamper, or a yelp ekes out in the dead of night, humans can’t help but imagine their furry friend is off chasing squirrels in dreamland. But what if they’re not dreaming, but stuck in a nightmare? What if delighted yips are actually cries of distress? What is a dog’s greatest fear? Such is the premise of the narrative short Nightmare of the Dog.
The dog in question, Maggie, was in attendance at AniFab, and received compliments on this, her first screen credit. In the film, Maggie’s titular nightmare is revealed to be a combination of two famous dog anxieties. First, her owners leave the house for no apparent reason (we might imagine this is her perception of work or errands, those pesky human constructs). Next, an intruder arrives, and Maggie must defend the home on behalf of her lost owners.
The simple elegance of the premise combined with a thorough knowledge of film language make for an excellent little short. Dutch angles, lighting cues, and all manner of basic-yet-effective techniques come together to tell a synergistic story. While it’s certainly no opus, it does its job quite well, and could perhaps be expanded upon in the future, building on the strength of the premise and execution. Plenty of children’s media has anthropomorphized live-action canine performers, and Nightmare of the Dog eschewed the guache mouth-animation so pervasive in the subgenre by telling a completely visual story—a lesson any future works ought heed well.