Hand-Picked Horror #3: Madame Tutli-Putli

Travelling alone on a chameleonic, overnight train to an unknown destination, Madame Tutli-Putli experiences an existential and metaphysical night odyssey that blends both the real and the unconscious worlds together.

Weighed down by the ghosts of her past, symbolically presented in the form of an almost endless supply of luggage, Madame Tutli-Putli boards the steam-punked, mechanical vessel in search of a new path. Without spoiling the intricacies of what is a masterwork of stop-play puppetry, squished together in her claustrophobic cabin is an; emaciated couple – sat in their suitcases – who struggle in their attempts to play chess as the train hurtles through the endless void to nowhere; a young boy who hides his face and a symbolic embodiment of machismo and patriarchal rule in the form of a truly vulgar, sexual deviant who preys upon the inextinguishable fears of Madame Tutli-Putli .

These brief moments, of what is a compact, multifaceted body of work, set up both the naturally beautiful but relentlessly arduous and pestilent realm that Madame Tutli-Putli belongs too. This world is menacing and Madame Tutli-Putli is presented as other in the form of social marginalisation. Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski say so much in terms of social commentary with such subtlety, accompanied by quite the most haunting reverie scored by David Bryant and Jean-Frederic Messier.

An audio-visual nightmare fuelled by the horrors of past-trauma, the performative nature of puppetry and both the kindness and menace of strangers, whilst remaining an emancipatory and cathartic narrative that gleans into the most human of emotions. A story glossed in symbolism and artisan puppetry, Lavis and Szczerbowski’s creative endeavours are limitless. Finding and discovering healing through the power of cinema, I could not be more grateful.