If you haven't subscribed to Neill Blomkamp's experimental Oats Studios yet, now would be a great time to get involved. The amount of exciting, bizarre and downright terrifying content coming from the studio is frankly a masterclass in how to do science fiction right, and their latest offering might just be the most horrifying so far.
The third instalment follows Rakka's mutilated Earth and Firebase's omnipotent Rivergod — but Zygote introduces possibly the most foul and unpleasant beast to Blomkamp's monster roster so far. Set in the oppressive Cerberus Minerals mining base somewhere in the Arctic Circle, we meet two survivors in the midst of something terrible. Starring Dakota Fanning and Jose Pablo Cantillo, what unfolds is a cross between the grizzly body horror of The Thing with the adrenalin-pumping suspense of #Alien.
Check out Zygote here:
Like the volumes that came before, #Zygote opens in an already established crisis. We are thrown headfirst into the climax with just enough information to establish the situation. The zygote itself is a thing of nightmares, created by absorbing the minds and bodies of its victims, turning them into a grotesque knot of human matter. In an interview with The Verge, #NeillBlomkamp explains that Zygote grew from an idea of "monsters made out of men" on a flight from Vancouver to Toronto:
"I posed the idea of a creature that would be made out of many humans, and that it’s specifically stitched together — it’s not an organic growth thing — so the circulatory and respiratory systems and everything had to be combined into this sort of horrific Frankenstein job."
Aside from the bloody alien stitched together with human body parts, we have a helluva lot of back story at play in Zygote's 22-minute runtime. Blomkamp explains that Cerberus Minerals exists to mine hundreds of asteroids which have crashed on Earth, making a fortune from the unique materials found within. One asteroid brings with it a "light wave" that transmits gigabytes into the minds of those who discover it, compelling them to experiment with and use the biological material around — effectively creating the monstrous zygote.
While that is happening, Dakota Fanning's robot Barkley finds out that she is human after all, and that these mining companies are using orphans instead of AI as manual labor to save money. Like Rakka and Firebase, Zygote throws the door open for possible sequels, or even feature-length movies which could delve further into the stories, characters and monsters of the #OatsStudios project.
Zygote is definitely the most horror-influenced episode the studio has put out so far, and its genre similarities to Alien once again raise the question of what could have been if Blomkamp had been given the reigns for the now-scrapped #Alien5. The final instalment of Volume 1 is titled Lima, which according to the director is "a bit more like a current-day thriller." Expect it to hit YouTube and Steam in the coming weeks.