The first short film from Oats Studios has been released online, and it's a cross between The Terminator and Independence Day. Directed by Neill Blomkamp (District 9) the film is titled Rakka and shows the Earth being oppressed by a cruel race of lizard-like aliens.
Oats Studio has been teased for some time by Blomkamp, and is an experimental project that returns him to his indie sci-fi roots. Recent teasers and trailers from the filmmaking group has shown footage from the first wave of short films known as Volume 1. Consisting of cinema-quality special effects and an appearance by Sigourney Weaver (shades of Blomkamp's cancelled Alien 5), they looked to be seriously intriguing. Fleshless characters, mech-suits, and gruesome sequences were all in evidence. The first short movie has now been made available for viewing, and it's pretty dark.
Rakka is 21 minutes long and can be seen in full via the Oats Studio channel on YouTube, as well as Steam. It's basically a selection of connected sequences and not exactly a cohesive story with a beginning and end, but it does impress with the visuals and a very grim tone. The narrative is laid out in three parts. The first part shows various cities in ruin and humans in chains, while narration tells us about the alien invaders (known as The Klum). Reptiles with advanced technology that seems to be based on black-goo of some sort, they perform hideous experiments on prisoners. But a group of guerillas led by Jasper (Weaver, who else would it be?), are fighting back and manage to kill a few of the invaders.
The second part introduces us to two other characters; Nosh (a pyromaniac who makes bombs and devices for the rebels) and Amir (a prisoner mutated by the alien experiments). The last part shows Jasper and her group fighting against the enemy, who apparently have telepathic powers as well.
There's no real conclusion by the end of the film, and that's intentional by Blomkamp. The whole idea is to gauge the interest and viability in taking the project further. Rakka certainly shows potential, and there's a lot of answered questions. An angelic life-form shows up without explanation and may be on the side of the humans, Amir's abilities are never really revealed, and the motives of the Klum are never explored. There are some very impressive slow-mo shots, scenes of alien constructs towering over cities, and the CG aliens themselves are pretty convincing. Fans of Arrow should also keep an eye out for Carly Pope in a pivotal role. One the whole, it has a very Terminator-like feel to it, with grim and gory effects used convincingly. The only slight disappointment is a couple of obvious building demolitions with unconvincing CG effects bolted on top.
While the director is hoping to get some support and revenue from Steam and merchandising, the main focus of these shorts will be to kick-start these projects into something bigger and inspire other filmmakers to get involved. Three more shorts are due for online release between now and mid-July, which will complete Volume 1 of the studio's work. Where it goes from there remains to be seen. On the evidence of Rakka, it's going to be well worth keeping an eye on the other forthcoming shorts. We'll keep you posted as they become available.
Source: Oats Studios