Director : Laura Jayne Hodkin

To fight or to flight. Those are the two options available to Laura Hodkin's Nail Biter, in the opening seconds of her visceral and tragicomic animated short. Standing atop a flight of stairs, leading to the belly of the underground, the nameless heroine braces herself for a battle. A fray familiar to, not only those dealing with anxiety, but to anyone who has ever had the pleasure of taking public transport. Sweat runs from her brow, fellow passengers pummel past and with an exhale, she braves it. Hodkin’s character is a stunning, monstrous creation. Her shoulders are orbs, her limbs long and unruly, her hair wild. She is the illustrated embodiment of anxiety and its symptomatic amplification of one’s physical space and place in the world. She is an avatar for the feeling of being too big and too small at the same time, for having to to be resolute when all you want to do is run. Predictably, her journey is a nightmare, with germs and jerks and the self soothing gnawing of nails, before, eventually, she is spat out, traumatised, onto to the platform. An original, jittery jazzy score more than compliments the delirious, dazzling drawings of Nailbiter, with its charming characterisation of tension, trauma and transport. It’s a shrewd and gratifyingly fun few minutes about a sensation or situation we’ve all suffered through.

Ami Guest