Rodrigo Sousa’s chilling animated shorts for Adult Swim will make your skin crawl

The animator’s new tryptic of black-and-white horror shorts, Uncanny Alley, follows a mysterious curse spreading from person to person…

19 June 2024

If you’re squeamish or sometimes get that thing where you feel like bugs are crawling on you… you may have to cover your eyes for this one. Adult Swim’s new series of shorts by Rodrigo Sousa are full of horrifying scenes and a mounting sense of creepy tension. They are also full of bizarre and weird situations (only to be expected from Adult Swim). With the first and second instalment of the horrifying series released: The Screening and The Nightshift, and the finale: The Roommate due to be released this Friday (21 June) we are fearful for what is to come. So far we’ve seen worm-like creatures grow out of the skin’s surface and whole brains thrown up – just to name a few key moments in the series.

Each a standalone horror story, with subtle hints that the tryptic follows some kind of a “mysterious curse spreading from person to person”, the chain of shorts were inspired by everything from last year’s “bedbug infestation in Paris”, “images of the human nervous system” and “a roommate that I had that acted quite weird”, Rodrigo tells us. The animator imagined the series “just like Courage the Cowardly Dog where we discover a new monster per episode [...] but at the same time I wanted to have an underlying thread connecting all the characters and stories together”, he says.


Rodrigo Sousa: Uncanny Alley (©Adult Swim Smalls, 2024)

The collection definitely puts you on the edge of your seat. We’re never quite sure where each short is leading but we know we can’t do anything but watch, with expert sound design by Jérémy Ben Ammar that makes the wait all the more nauseating. This was the desired effect for Rodrigo, as he tells It’s Nice That: “The idea was to take regular situations, or familiar places and add progressive layers of weirdness until the final shot. There is a sense of dread and hopelessness to each episode as we know there is some sort of machination in motion that cannot be stopped.” Without the possibility of escape, each character falls victim to a new otherworldly curse, with as much understanding as the audience about what it is happening and how to stop it – not an easy watch.

The pacing of the shorts feels very strategic, with breaks for unnervingly still takes and horribly suspenseful long pauses across a stretching two-three minutes. According to Rodrigo his animation process was the key factor in this visual approach: “During production I had to go quite quickly so I decided to limit unnecessary movements and have a lot of relatively static shots,” he explains. In the case of this horror series, the quick turnaround only added to the creepiness of the animated events, as we hold our breath waiting to see what’s lurking in the darkness of the black-and-white layers or jump at the next interval of frenetic and fast-paced imagery when we are least expecting it.

What really finishes the work though is Rodrigo’s collaboration with Jeremy on a soundscape of chilling noises that appear just outside of our field of vision – “like hearing someone walking down a corridor before showing who is there. Or weird noises coming from behind a closed door.” Using sound to vary the harshness of the shots when we are least expecting it, “Jeremy did a great job on dialling down or completely turning off the music during some intense moments”, says Rodrigo. The duo previously collaborated on their graduation film and Rodrigo’s viral Playground trailer last year.

The horror shorts launched on 7 June as part of Adult Swim Smalls, a program to discover new talent and ideas. Watch out for the final short on Adult Swim’s Youtube channel, going live this Friday.


Rodrigo Sousa: Uncanny Alley (©Adult Swim Smalls, 2024)

GalleryRodrigo Sousa: Uncanny Alley (©Adult Swim Smalls, 2024)

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Rodrigo Sousa: Uncanny Alley (©Adult Swim Smalls, 2024)

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About the Author

Ellis Tree

Ellis Tree (she/her) joined It’s Nice That as a junior writer in April 2024 after graduating from Kingston School of Art with a degree in Graphic Design. Across her research, writing and visual work she has a particular interest in printmaking, self-publishing and expanded approaches to photography.

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