Neill Blomkamp's Short Film 'Zygote' Stars Dakota Fanning and a Horrific Monster

Wednesday, 12 July 2017 - 9:12PM
Wednesday, 12 July 2017 - 9:12PM
Neill Blomkamp's Short Film 'Zygote' Stars Dakota Fanning and a Horrific Monster
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Oats Studios
Filmmaker Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Chappie) and his new project, Oats Studios, have spent the past few weeks churning out a constant stream of experimental and atmospheric sci-fi short films, and they've all been phenomenal.

Their newest short film, Zygote, continues that trend by giving Oats Studios their most terrifying sci-fi horror story yet. And that's saying something, because they've all been terrifying so far - their first film Rakka was a hopeless alien invasion story (starring Sigourney Weaver) while Firebase was a mindbending Vietnam War tale. In contrast, Zygote is closer in tone to John Carpenter's The Thing, following two survivors of an Arctic mining expedition (played by Dakota Fanning and The Walking Dead's Jose Pablo Cantillo) as they run from an alien creature that's built itself a body using the hands, feet, and eyeballs of all the other miners.

As you can tell from that description, there's enough body horror on display to give this one a "graphic content" warning at the beginning. Beyond that, the short avoids revealing too many details of why these two miners, Barklay and Quinn, are in this desperate situation, preferring to just jump right into it. You can watch the whole thing below:

Now that you've just watched all 22 minutes of that, we can get into some spoilers.

Speaking to The Verge, Blomkamp went more in-depth into Zygote's unspoken backstory. Basically, a corrupt mining company looking into one of many asteroids that have crashed into the Earth find an ancient alien light that drives the miners crazy, and this eventually ends with the alien entity (hidden inside the asteroid) mashing all of the miners into a single, hideous body for itself - that would be big ol' Mr. Hands-and-Eyeballs that we see in the film.

It also explains why Quinn blinded himself immediately after seeing "the light," to stop himself from losing his mind, and why Dakota Fanning's Barklay was so insecure - as a "canary class" worker, she was raised from birth as a servant owned by the mining company, whose job is (or was) to test whether or not these mining caverns were dangerous (as it turns out, they are). Blomkamp explains:

Opening quote
"Thomas came up with the idea that Earth is inundated with asteroids 20 years from now: massive amounts of asteroids fall all over the planet, and there's a concentration of them in Northern Canada and Russia. They bring with them some really unique semiconductors and materials that we aren't familiar with on Earth. So these mining corporations become these larger, 21st century versions of Google, where all the venture capital goes into extracting these incredibly precious metals.
In the asteroid, there's this trap that's been flying around for who-knows-how-many billions of years. I really liked the idea of a light wave transmitting gigabytes of data into a mind, and that's what happened in the mining facility: when the miners crack open the rocks, this light bounces into their eyes, it sends them down this spiral. It basically teaches them how to make a biological substrate that it can live in. Essentially, it wants to make them a body. That's where this monster comes from."
Closing quote

A lot of that backstory could eventually be shown on screen if Zygote ends up becoming a feature film or TV series. Nearly all of Oats Studios' short films are designed with this in mind, leaving some extra room for expansion if they get enough funding to turn them into bigger projects. Although unlike Rakka and Firebase, the story in Zygote actually resolves itself by the end, which is a nice change of pace from Rakka's painfully open-ended finale.

But even if the story within the short film gets resolved, there's still the creation of the monster, and the depraved mining corporations that buy orphans for dangerous labor because that's cheaper than building androids - all of that still sounds fascinating, and a feature-length version of Zygote could easily become a modern day equivalent to The Thing, something the actual The Thing remake most certainly wasn't. As long as you could stomach Mr. Hands-and-Eyeballs for two full hours, of course.

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