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John’s Horror Corner: Neill Blomkamp’s Zygote (2017), Firebase (2017) and Rakka (2017), Oats Studios Short Film Review.

July 29, 2017

MY CALL:  These short films are out-damn-standing and I’d say two of them should absolutely be made into feature length films! Great special effects, premises, production value…these were a treat. 

Since the release of Alien: Covenant (2017), I think we’ve all had ample time to reflect on how awful it was that director Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium, Chappie) got booted from his Alien 5 project.  But let’s fret not.  It seems he has been busy making films to show the film studios what a poor decision they made.  And Blomkamp’s answer comes in the form of three short films in Oats Studios Volume 1 (Zygote, Rakka and Firebase) loaded with alien invasions and gory nightmare fuel.

All three films feature alien life, global threats, elements of mental and bodily control or thought invasion, and gooey special effects.


Zygote (2017; written and directed by Blomkamp). Premise: Stranded in an Arctic mine, two lone survivors—Dakota Fanning (Hide and Seek, Push) and Jose Pablo Cantillo (Chappie, Disturbia, Crank, The Walking Dead)—are forced to fight for their lives, evading and hiding from a new kind of terror.

With two survivors low on supplies and the mining facility low on power, we are dropped into what would most likely be minute 70 of a feature length film. The shots hint of monstrosities and remoteness while lighting is excellent—not that this is surprising, Blomkamp is an ace. In the best ways possible, this will remind you of The Thing (1982) and Aliens (1986).  I’m even reminded of the animated horror Dead Space (2008).

The special effects of the creature are executed fantastically, affording our creature an otherworldly presence down to its flowing movement.  Damn, it’s creepy!  This monster is the coolest thing I’ve seen in a long time and the gore is on point!  I really felt all the tension as if I had been watching for 90 minutes.

Firebase (2017; written and directed by Blomkamp). Premise: While fighting the Vietnam war, both sides face a new kind of threat that neither of them were prepared for.

The flashbacking vintage film style works as we find soldiers pulling back the skin of apparently non-human entities on the battlefield to reveal hidden monstrosities. If you think like me, you’ll find glimmers of Predator (1987) lingering among some solid battlescapes in war-torn jungles. But this short thematically doesn’t follow the 1987 alien-hunter playbook. We have tractor beams, war machines, space ships and telekinetically assembled flesh-armor—all quite a spectacle to behold considering this is not a studio feature length film with a matching budget!  Oh, and let’s not forget the gooey, gory deliciousness!

Unlike Zygote, which felt like the final 20 minutes of a feature length film, Firebase seems to provide glimmers of prologue and the transition from the second to final acts building up to the final confrontations.

Rakka (2017; written and directed by Blomkamp). Premise: A tale of a dystopian future in which aliens have colonized the earth and humans struggle to fight back.

Conceptually, at first glance, this is the least original of the three short films. But as it unfolds, it has perhaps the richest plot of them all, and it packs some serious punches. Such visuals as the Eiffel Tower covered in carrion, Mad Max-ian Apocoscapes, and echoes of District 9’s (2009) alien infections.

Again, we are graced with outstanding special effects atypical of the short film realm.  We also find Sigourney Weaver (Avatar, Ghostbusters, Chappie) as our alien resistance leader whose actions slowly unveil the elaborate world-building within.

Like Zygote, this properly feels like part(s) of a feature film that needs to be made.

A lot of folks got a bit nervous after Elysium (2013) and Chappie (2015; which I loved) received mixed reviews. However, I feel that this series of short films should alleviate anyone’s concerns regarding Blomkamp’s creative propensities in the Sci-Fi genre. He really needs to be releasing a major film every year given what I just witnessed.

24 Comments leave one →
  1. July 30, 2017 8:15 am

    I am one of those few people who liked Alien: Covenant quite a bit. But I still appreciate Blomkamp’s craft and brilliant ideas! These look absolutely amazing. I’ve been meaning to check these out since I read about them, so this comes as a timely reminder. Great post! 🙂

    • John Leavengood permalink
      July 30, 2017 9:11 am

      Thanks. I’ve been reading rumblings of an Alien (maybe) reboot/reimagining. If they do anything like that, I hope they knock of Blomkamp’s door.

  2. July 30, 2017 12:29 pm

    After reviewing all of Blomkamp’s efforts, I dig Zygote the most. I was surprised at how Dakota could be a bona fide action star. Rakka would be my 2nd choice although it is formulaic to an extent. Great takes!

    • John Leavengood permalink
      July 30, 2017 12:34 pm

      I’d like to see those two as full movies. Probably not Firebase, to be honest.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      July 30, 2017 1:54 pm

      Yeah. Some neat ideas…but not much more.


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