[Review] “A Visit”: the light found in grim

“A Visit” is an animated 2D short film that revolves around an unfortunate circumstance, challenged by an even more unlikely friendship

The grim reaper and a sick child. A familiar setup with a seemingly predictable ending…or perhaps not.

A hidden gem in the endless amount of short films on YouTube, A Visit is an animated 2D short film published on April 20, 2019, and is directed and animated by Pak Ki Chung with music arranged by Dominik Redenczki. Through the film’s short runtime of 3 minutes and 30 seconds, it’s straightforward, and finds itself to be beautifully constructed.

The film opens within a hospital room with a little girl resting in bed, suffering with an illness. The Grim Reaper soon appears in the girl’s hospital room, but she chooses to ignore him and continues to lie down and rest. The next morning, the girl wakes up and finds the Grim Reaper attempting to play on a xylophone, which is when she teaches him how to play. From then on, the girl and the Grim Reaper spend time with each other and soon start to become comfortable with one another.

Both the girl and the Grim Reaper engage with each other day and night, as they bond and form a pleasant friendship with one another in which the girl begins to heal and become healthy again – completely subverting the expectations the audience would have as it is presumed that this girl may die.

The portrayal of the two characters project a superficial sense of endearment and wholesomeness that juxtaposes the more sinister underlying themes that are explored. The characterization of the Grim Reaper is used as an allegory to depict attitudes towards death. Ironically, the girl finds solace in his company and his departure saddens her even though their time with each other was short lived.

Shifting from conventional storylines and lines of reasoning, Chung explores the idea of a figure not neglectful of life and vibrance but instead unaware of its existence. The animation allows viewers to make positive connections with the story and create a clear contrast from two opposing views of the Grim Reaper. One plagued with darkness, represented by the night, and one that is shown sympathy and understanding, represented by beams of sun illuminating the room.

The gorgeous visuals in combination with the background music create a captivating sensorial experience. Dominik Redenczki, the composer of the original score, captures an enticing, mystical aura that permeates each scene. Sound effects are also incorporated to craft vivid imagery and enhance the storyline. The wistful piano ballad playing in the background as the grim reaper disappears is interjected by the gentle thrum of mallets upon the xylophone, lightening the atmosphere in the wake of his absence. The audience feels empathy for these characters as we learn that healing can take a matter of time but in the end, anyone can heal if we take the time to do so.

The heartwarming animation captures the charming essence of an unorthodox friendship. The film’s pleasant attributes as well as its darker aspects appeal to an audience who can appreciate the artistic mastery that is displayed.