I am haunted by Forky.
Ever since I first laid eyes on the contorted mouth and mismatched googily eyes of Toy Story 4's newest character, I've been unable to stop thinking about this screaming plastic utensil. Introduced in a highly disturbing trailer Monday morning, Forky (voiced by Tony Hale) will apparently have a starring role in what is to be the Pixar franchise's first new film in nine years, due out June 2019.
As far as I can tell, the plot of Toy Story 4 will dive into metaphysical questions such as, at what point does a toy become conscious? and is Forky in physical agony because he is poorly made?
I mean, just look at this existential nightmare:
First of all, I can't get past how creepy this trailer is. Even without Forky screaming, "I don't belong here!," there is something unnerving about Woody, Buzz, and company floating placidly through the ether as Joni Mitchell croons "Both Sides Now." Only Forky seems awake to the horrors of reality — he is on the verge of tears as his mouth wobbles and his little red brow furrows. Never have I seen such a perfect encapsulation of dread from an animated hybrid cutlery.
Forky is clearly not okay, and I honestly don't trust the Toy Story creators with this kind of material after they almost burned all the toys in an incinerator the last time around. The plot synopsis for Toy Story 4 doesn't give us much reassurance that Forky is going to be alright, either. In it, Disney writes, "[W]hen Bonnie adds a reluctant new toy called 'Forky' to her room, a road trip adventure alongside old and new friends will show Woody how big the world can be for a toy." Director Josh Cooley tried to downplay the Forky horror show in an interview with Vanity Fair, explaining, "Forky is a toy that Bonnie made out of a disposable spork, so he's facing a crisis. He wants to fulfill his purpose as a spork, but now has a new toy purpose thrust upon him." As if Forky wasn't going through enough already, he is apparently not even a fork?
What's more, Forky's crude origins suggest he is in some sort of physical pain. He is a spork who has been made sentient, wrenched into the world of the living, as much of an affront to the natural order of toyhood as Frankenstein's monster. Forky's arms bend in too many places. His eyes are different sizes. His mouth gapes like a fish gasping for water before it is beaned on the deck of a boat. His very existence makes us wonder, panicked, about other grotesqueries that may have inadvertently been given life — hand-traced turkeys? Paper-plate ghosts?
Forky only has two lines of dialogue in the trailer. There's the first guttural realization that "I don't belong here," followed by his confirmation that "I am not a toy" (plus some screaming). And in that declaration is his doom: By not being a functional spork, he cannot be put to any practical use, but by not being a toy, he also has no hope of being passed on to future children the way Woody and his crew were gifted from Andy to Bonnie. Seeing as Toy Story has suggested repeatedly that toys can die, one can't help but wonder how long Forky is destined for this world. He seems more immediately destined for the trash.
To paraphrase what Noah Cicero reminds us in The Condemned: "When a spork screams in pain, the actual pain is only half the noise they make. The other half is the terror at being forced to accept that they exist."
Hang in there, Forky.