There are things occurring at Oats Studios that I’ve been meaning to bring to your attention for some time. Special things. You may have heard of Neill Blomkamp, the South African writer/director and brilliant mind behind the outstanding District 9 and the otherwise enjoyable Elysium, and Chappie. Well, after being stabbed in the back by 20th Century Fox who decided not to roll the dice on his Aliens sequel (essentially wiping Alien 3 and Resurrection from existence), he’s gone and done something truly wonderful with his time.
He has created Oats Studios, a place for experimental short films that could in turn spawn their very own feature length movies, as Alive In Joburg did for the aforementioned, District 9. The results are rather spectacular, with each new upload to the online studio providing a delightful evening of “Blomkamp and Chill”.
“Please don’t call it that,” I hear my brother say as we settle down for another offering.
First up is Rakka, a fascinating yet brutal depiction of Earth post Alien occupation. To get an idea of it’s size and scope for what is a twenty minute short, it stars none other than Sigourney “fucking” Weaver herself. The narration is nothing short of harrowing as we’re quickly introduced to the hopeless plight that the human race now faces, while the alien species themselves are terrifying and beautifully imagined, and is what I believe the royal family must look like beneath their human skin. As bleak and as desperate as this world may be, this is a film that’ll have you begging for more.
Up next is Firebase, a take it or leave horror(?) film set within the jungles of the Vietnam war. There are flashes of brilliance on offer but with far less continuity than Rakka to ultimately hold it all together. The story itself is a little hit and miss with some scenes looking like they’ve come straight from a 30 Seconds To Mars music video. However, It is of course thrilling and unnerving in places, with a scene of our spear wielding protagonist being a personal highlight.
Rest assured that standards are immediately lifted. Starring Dakota “out of work” Fanning, Zygote feels like an homage to my favourite, and arguably the greatest horror movie of all time, John Carpenter’s The Thing. Set in an Arctic mine after a catastrophic event has unfolded, Zygote is a story of survival and cunning, as our two survivors try to outwit their horrifying pursuer in order to reach safety. It’s a nail biting experience as we watch each painstaking step that they take. You can feel “the thing” breathing down their neck at every turn, nervous for what’s to come. This is one not to be missed.
Lastly are the, for lack of a better word, satirical pieces. God, is the story of our creator, and is 4 minutes of raucous blasphemy brought to life by the one and only Sharlto Copley, dripping in dark humour down to the very last breath. “Release the plague, Geoffrey”
We don’t talk about Cooking With Bill.
All in all, Neill Blomkamp is the best thing to happen to Sci-Fi since the days of Alien and The Terminator. Somewhere between the talents of James Cameron and Ridley Scott, I like to think of Neill Blomkamp as the new Paul Verhoeven, the man who brought us the likes of Robocop, Total Recall, and Starship Troopers. This is a man with an abundance of talent for storytelling and filmmaking alike. Should a studio get behind any one of these projects for a feature length spectacular, we will surely be in for a real treat.
Find Oats Studios Here