Channeling John Carpenter and Ridley Scott, Neill Blomkamp and his Oats Studio team deliver an impressive sci-fi horror short film as the fourth instalment of their ‘Volume 1’ anthology. Starring Dakota Fanning, the 22-minute Zygote is a dark and tense short that serves-up one of the most horrifying monsters you’re likely to see on screen for some time.
Set in the snow covered Arctic Circle and centred around a woman in a boiler suit battling a alien presence, though Zygote isn’t the most original slice of sci-fi/horror you’ll witness, it’s certainly an effective one. Indebted largely to both The Thing and Alien, it taps into the atmosphere and tension of these two genre classics and delivers almost an abridged highlights reel from these features.
Where Zygote does bring a little something new to the table though is in its creature design. Initially conceived as “a monster made out of men”, the multi-limbed, complex being that the Oats Studio team manage to birth is truly the stuff of nightmares. It’s a creation fans of body horror are going love and although its depiction is vivid and detailed, the nature of the short means you never get to find out too much regarding its genesis – and I’m sure that’s something fans of the film would love to see.With 4 films in this initial Oats Studio anthology released rapidly one after the other, this quartet of sci-fi shorts has been somewhat of a ‘mixed bag’ so far. While Zygote and Rakka feel like Blomkamp at his best, Firebase felt misjudged and God: Serengeti under-baked. How many more films we’ll get in this ‘Volume 1’ batch is currently unknown (from the trailer it looks like we’ll have at least one more), but with over 5-million views for the aforementioned shorts there’s obviously an audience for what Blomkamp and his crew are doing, but it sounds as if the South African director is still trying to work out the best way to finance more Oats Studio films.