After Neill Blomkamp‘s failed attempt at adding a fifth installment to the ‘Alien’ franchise, the visionary sci-fi director announced the creation of his own film production company, Oats Studios. The first offering from the studio is the short ‘Rakka’, a gritty, post-apocalyptic alien invasion film set in the near future.
The film opens somewhere in Texas, in the year 2020. From the outset, each frame absolutely oozes an ultra-bleak, dystopian atmosphere. The world as we know it is no more; in its place is a brutal hellscape in which nearly all of humanity (well, what’s left of it anyhow) is enslaved by a barbaric, if highly advanced species of reptilian extraterrestrials. The aliens erect monolithic mega structures used to generate an atmosphere suitable for their crops and breathing needs, and treat humans as test subjects, or pests to be eliminated. Though primitive in appearance, the aliens seem to possess telekinetic and telepathic abilities, allowing them to use mind control to assist in their terrifying takeover of Earth. The planet, and any hope for our species seems all but lost, but that doesn’t stop a ragtag resistance group from fighting back every chance they get.
Led by Sigourney Weaver, the resistance uses explosives (obtained from a character called Nosh, wonderfully played by Brandon Auret) and brain-blocking headsets to gain seemingly-small victories over the invaders. The film teases another race of alien beings, angelic in appearance. Referred to as “mankind’s saviors”, perhaps there is a glimmer of hope to the story after all.
At just under twenty-two minutes, ‘Rakka’ is essentially an extended trailer for a feature-length film that most definitely needs to be made. With visuals and story elements recalling the ‘Terminator’, ‘Predator‘ and ‘Mad Max’ films, as well as Blomkamp’s previous work, the film feels familiar, but excellent acting and a brand-new, fully-realized world that feels very lived in keep the film from falling into territory of retread or outright homage. The effects, a mix of CGI and practical makeup, are top-notch, and the creature design is menacing and inventive. The universe of ‘Rakka’ is as rich as it is frightening, and in immediate need of expanding. Highly recommended.
Watch ‘Rakka’ below.