Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Oscar's Hotel for Fantastical Creatures - Episode 1 Review

The KickThePJ team have delivered one of the their most ambitious projects yet. Originating as a short film funded by New Form Digital on YouTube, Oscar's Hotel For Fantastical Creatures now become a six-part web series available on Vimeo On Demand.

The eccentric Oscar (Andrew Ableson) and his nephew Oliver (Chris Kendall) run a hotel for strange and fantastical creatures. Soon, Oscar leaves for cosmic council duties and Oliver, the only human in the place, must manage the hotel and all its surreal adventures.

Available on Vimeo On Demand

Episode 1, The Party Nightmare was released on Tues 15 September 2015 and it wasn't long before the Oscar's Hotel hashtag became the top trend in the UK. Director and creator PJ Liguori had been releasing behind-the-scenes snippets and photos on his side channel and Instagram for several months and the audience have been waiting impatiently.

In the first episode, Oscar's advert is failing to attract interesting clients, especially with the Dull Head twins (Joe Bereta and Elliott Morgan) bringing down the mood. Resorting to desperate measures, Oliver phones up the Party Nightmare (Jake Roper) - an "insane boogie gun wielding demon horse" - which brings disastrous results...

Full of comedy with a splash of quirkiness, an interruption of darkness and lots of surrealism, the episode is distinctively in the team KickthePJ style. It's almost indescribably visually spectacular, with incredible costumes and creatures made in partnership with Jim Henson's Creature Shop (the makers behind the visual effects for The Muppets, Labyrinth, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Where the Wild Things Are). The great camera-work guides us through the astonishing set design, costumes and make-up.

Titlecard by Wirrow

The writing is simple (and pun-tacular), but that allows the story to tell itself. The Party Nightmare is very much an introductory episode in order to lead us into the main series. The only near-fault is the music. Whilst fantastic, the near-constant presence of it in the background grew slightly annoying and risked detracting our attention from the dialogue.

PJ Liguori has been creating videos, stories and creatures on his YouTube Channel, KickthePJ, for seven years, and it's wonderful to see a place for everything to come together. Featuring many mentions and cameos of past creations and characters, such as Wiggles the clown, the Forever Train and the Party Nightmare, their stories are weaving together in the imaginatively rich world of Oscar's Hotel. 

With a sparkling cast featuring Hollywood legends from Sir Patrick Stewart and Alfred Molina to YouTube stars Hannah Hart, Mamrie Hart, Felix Kjellberg (Pewdiepie), Dan Howell (Danisnotonfire) and Phil Lester (AmazingPhil), Oscar's Hotel is the place to be.

Pack your bags and check in!

4.5 stars

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