Frankelda’s Book of Spooks (2021) IMDB description: “The series will take us to Frankelda’s darkest secrets, alongside her book, her faithful companion, with intense and entertaining stories where not everything is as it seems.”
Why I took it off the list: It’s been quite some time since I reviewed an animated film or TV show. And this spooky Mexican animation looked right up my alley.
As it seemed in the vein of a creepy but fun Laika or Henry Selick production, I thought I’d give this stop-motion animated series a look. Plus, it’s incredibly short (only 5 episodes between 12–15 minutes long), so not much of a commitment.
So, let’s dig in!
Review of Frankelda’s Book of Spooks (Sustos Ocultos de Frankelda)
It’s always a delight when talented animators decide to use stop-motion to bring a story to life. For whatever reason, this style of animation seems to lend itself well to somewhat macabre tales. Coraline, ParaNorman, and The Nightmare for Christmas are the most obvious examples.
Frankelda’s Book of Spooks fits right in with this tradition and proves a worthy successor to its illustrious forebearers. The principal setting for the series is a gothic mansion in the middle of a mysterious realm inhabited by the feisty ghost Frankelda and her talking book Herneval. The perfect jumping-off point for this gorgeous style of animation.
However, this introduction is just part of a framing story. The bulk of each episode is made up of a mostly stand-alone creepy story that gives the series a Goosebumps-style anthology feel. The through line is that each tale features an unhappy child’s encounter with ‘spooks’, diverse supernatural beings that live in the shadows. More often than not, they offer help with the kids’ problems — at a price.
Amazing Animation, Surprisingly Good Songs
The moral of each story Frankelda tells essentially boils down to ‘be careful what you wish for’. But while this format sounds like it could be repetitive, all the tales are different (and short) enough to be entertaining.
Plus, they all boast creatively animated ghouls and monsters with their own distinct personalities, each one more fantastical and beautifully designed than the last. The sets are lovingly crafted and packed with fun little details, and the animators use some impressive camerawork to keep things feeling dynamic.
When it became clear that the spooks all have their own musical numbers outlining their diabolical schemes, I was a bit skeptical. But unlike some other recent animated musicals, including the otherwise excellent Pinocchio from Guillermo Del Toro, the songs are largely catchy and memorable, with fun lyrics.
The final installment, which digs into Frankelda’s own first encounter with a spook, also nicely ties everything together with the framing story. Although the series ends on a bit of a disappointing cliffhanger for the 2 main characters, feature-length prequel/continuation Frankelda and the Prince of Spooks is in production and will hopefully tie up loose ends.
Total score: 9/10
Frankelda’s Book of Spooks (2021): Worth Watching?
Yes, Frankelda’s Book of Spooks tells a range of fun and engaging creepy stories with a satisfying framing device. Best of all, it’s brought to life with beautiful and incredibly creative animation,
Frankelda’s Book of Spooks (Sustos Ocultos de Frankelda)