"Imagination" is the sort of enervating "experimental" pic that can drive the most venturesome cinephile off to a Paulie Shore retrospective for emergency palate-cleansing.

Stylistically pretentious and narratively impenetrable, “Imagination” is the sort of enervating “experimental” pic that can drive the most venturesome cinephile off to a Paulie Shore retrospective for emergency palate-cleansing. Pic has had limited theatrical runs Stateside, and its flashes of imaginative animation might be enough to tempt exceptionally hardy festgoers. But then again, those brave souls will likely wait for a DVD edition that allows for extended fast-forwarding.

Helmer Eric Leiser — who wrote the ponderous screenplay with his brother, score composer Jeffrey Leiser — reportedly had no less an expert than Czech surrealist and filmmaker Jan Svankmajer as his mentor while preparing the pic’s many fantasy sequences. Claymation, puppetry, stop-motion and time-lapse sketching are just a few of the tricks employed here, not always to dazzling effect. But even the most unimpressive animated bits are preferable to the live-action scenes, which propel a muddled storyline about psychically connected twin sisters who fascinate an obsessed psychoneurologist. Performances are amateurish at best, and threadbare production values — best typified by a scene where an earthquake is indicated with nothing more than herky-jerky camera movements — recall such campy cheapies as “Manos: The Hand of Fate.”

Imagination

U.S.-Czech Republic

Production

An Albino Fawn Prods. presentation of an Albino Fawn (U.S.) production, in association with Pregnant Pictures (Czech Republic). Produced by Jules Engel Foundation, Joseph Cahill, Laura Leiser. Directed by Eric Leiser. Screenplay, Eric Leiser, Jeffrey Leiser.

Crew

Camera (FotoKem color), Nathan Meier; editor, Tyler G. Phillips; music, Jeffrey Leiser; director of animation/art director, Eric Leiser. Reviewed on DVD, Houston, Oct. 23, 2007. Running time: 67 MIN.

With

Edmund K. Gildersleeve, Nikki Haddad, Jessi Haddad, Courtney Sanford, Travis Poelle.
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