**Watch before reading this review – there are mild spoilers.**
That is not hyperbole. In twenty minutes, Blomkamp unleashed something that any self-respecting sci-fi/horror fan would prefer a thousands times more than the past two Alien movies by Ridley Scott combined. If the producers of the Alien franchise turned down something a fraction as good as Zygote then they’ve completely lost touch with what makes this genre great.
Zygote, the latest installment in Oats Studio Volume 1, follows Barkley (a synthetic human) and John Quinn (actual human) as they attempt to avoid a genetically created monstrosity and get to the relative safety of “Facility Alpha.” Alpha apparently has the necessary supplies and security to survive this hulking nightmare until reinforcements arrive.
Like the other two Oats Studios’ short films, Zygote gives you just enough information to get invested in the story while building upon previously established sci-fi archetypes to expedite/avoid a ton of boring exposition. Any sci-fi fan worth their salt knows about the class systems of 1984, the potential dangers of intergalactic mining operations from Total Recall & Aliens, and of course the unimaginable dangers that unfold when science runs amok.
In Zygote, we find out that a scientist created a monster by stitching together random human body-parts and rodent brains from various subjects into one, huge, mind-sucking Cthulhuian monstrosity. Then there’s Barkley (Dakota Fanning absolutely crushes this one, btw), a character who could have an entire miniseries on Netflix dedicated to everything that happened to her prior to Zygote. As a synthetic, she’s a part of “Canary Class” – which is exactly what it sounds like: a disposable group of workers sent down into the mines to check for poisonous gas pockets. So in the first few minutes Blomkamp has laid down enough moral complexities to fill volumes, but that’s just the backdrop for this claustrophobic romp through your subconscious fears.
In the brief time we spend with Barkley and her human compatriot, John Quinn (portrayed by Jose Pablo Contillo) we learn so much about both this world and our two protagonists. At the onset of this story, Quinn attempts to dissuade Barkley of her preconceived ideas about this caste system asserting she’s been “brainwashed.” He also demands she stay hydrated and well-fed to keep her strength up – a strange request for a supposed synthetic being.
Yup, the shit gets real….while things are getting REALLY real.
And all this before the monster even shows up! The creature itself is the kind of mentally-scarring, snake-fuckingly bizarre stuff that only Blomkamp can dream up. It truly is beautiful in its sheer hideousness. As Barkley and Quinn try to make their escape we see the kind of running and gunning akin to Aliens or a live action version of the old video game Doom (no, not that one with the Rock and Karl Urban and yes, Karl Urban was in the movie adaptation of Doom).
Like the other two Oats Studios short films, the finality is only so final and the recurring theme of Starship Troopers’ “Do You Want to Know More?” rings true in Zygote as well. That’s not to say it’s an incomplete story, because we get exactly the kind of resolution we’d want out of a story like this, but it definitely opens up your imagination to exploring deeper and deeper into the world Blomkamp and company have crafted.
Blomkamp is three for three in terms of crafting the best science fiction films (even if they are short films) so far and if Netflix, Amazon or any major studio aren’t banging on the doors of Oats Studios in hopes of adapting these into a more long-form story (be it theatrical release or mini-series) – then the American movie system is truly broken beyond repair when it comes to sci-fi/horror.
Oats is running on a “if you like what you see and want to see more, you should donate because being awesome ain’t cheap” platform that we whole heartedly endorse. So just like they say in Starship Troopers – if you want to see more: SUPPORT – http://oatsstudios.com/support.html
You can find us on Twitter ogling every frame of Zygote at @Official_FAN