VHS horror film fans (not the old tapes you had to rewind to rewatch) tune in, you don’t want to miss this.
If you’re like me, and have never heard of Oats Studios, then you will be forgiven, you also might be thinking what the hell is all this about. Before i go any further, this has to be the best collection of Sci-Fi/horror shorts i have ever seen, it definitely belongs on a prestigious stage, such as FrightFest. It is packed with scares, suspense and grotesque monsters.
Oats Studios is an independent film studio created by Neil Blomkamp (District 9, Chappie, Elysium). Volume 1 is essentially a collection of short films, split up into three main short stories, further complimented with additional stories throughout. Naturally, all the films have an indie feel to them, but in no way does this take away any quality from both the narrative or the scares. On the contrary, i haven’t seen short films that are this eery, grotesque and down-right creative since John Carpenter’s The Thing.
Note, the audience demographic for this will be very niche and not for the faint hearted. The gratuitous violence is used as a narrative drive throughout and could possibly rival The Evil Dead on the gore counter (that’s not a bad thing, mind). Saying that, the scares don’t come from the gore, or rely on cheap jump-scenes, they are well crafted and built up through suspense and the outlandish feel to the world you’ve landed in. The sticking factor for these short films is the creativity behind the monsters. The bold, out-of-this-world conception of these creatures quite physically makes your stomach turn; the pure terror of these beings and their desire to kill in such a monstrous way really delivers on the fear factor. A landmark to follow for all future Sci-Fi horror films.
The synopsis labels the films as experimental, and that really is what it feels like. The stories feel completely uncensored, unregulated, as if they were leaving Blomkamp’s mind (through the form of telepathy, obviously) and ending up directly on your TV; an immersive trip into a horror experience like no other. This all being said, there are a few A-list actors the films are constructed around, such as Alien killing maestro Sigourney Weaver and Earth defender Dakota Fanning. The acting isn’t relied on too much, but it’s always nice to see a Sigourney’s face when aliens are involved, right?
The three main short films are:
Rakka: A tale of a dystopian future where an unknown alien group have colonised the earth and humans struggle to fight back.
Firebase: While fighting the Vietnam war, both sides face a new kind of threat that neither of them were prepared for
Zygote:Stranded in an Arctic mine, two lone survivors are forced to fight for their lives, evading and hiding from a new kind of terror
Out of the three, Zygote was my personal favourite. This was purely down to the design of the monster, i won’t give anything away, but it’s definitely worth a watch.
As previously mentioned, if you’re a fan of the VHS collection then this is a must for you. It mirrors the narrative without the centralised story, but amplifies the cinematography, the scares and gore exponentially. A great watch for Halloween, but i cannot reiterate enough, this isn’t for the faint hearted.