Directed by: Neill Blomkamp
Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Eugene Khumbanyiwa, Robert Hobbs, Carly Pope, Brandon Auret
From Oats Studios and visionary writer and director Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium) comes the short film Rakka, an intelligent and gritty alien-invasion story that sci-fi and horror fans alike won’t want to miss. Starring Sigourney Weaver as Jasper, a guerilla soldier waging a vengeful retaliation against the vicious aliens, Rakka depicts a world taken over by scaly, vile-looking creatures whose sole intent is to enslave the human race and perform grotesque experiments on their prisoners. While the plot itself treads some familiar ground, the film’s bold imagery, exceptional CGI and practical effects, and powerhouse acting raise the bar considerably and makes for an entertaining and visceral experience.
Right away, Rakka‘s barren, apocalyptic world is the stuff of nightmares. Cities crumble, the aliens capture and torture their human slaves, and the landscape remains bleak, depressing, and chaotic. An early sequence, involving bombs planted by a human resistance movement, sets the stage for the excruciating battle between the savage invaders (known as “the Klum”) and the humans determined to survive and win back their planet. In addition to Jasper, two other characters play critical roles in the story: Nosh (Brandon Auret), a bomb-maker for the rebel force, and Amir (Eugene Khumbanyiwa), a former prisoner of the Klum whose body has been subjected to gruesome, bio-technical experiments. The most suspenseful part of the film comes in the climax, as Jasper and the other rebels hunt down an alien invader and witness first-hand the creature’s telepathic ability to manipulate and control its human victims. It’s a frightening and intense sequence that makes up for the slower pace of the first several minutes of the film, which are monologue-heavy and filled with exposition.
Because Rakka is only 21 minutes long, many questions go unanswered, but that’s to be expected of a short film; in fact, leaving some pieces of the story ambiguous or open-ended serves to heighten anticipation for the next installment of the film (or the next project from Oats Studios in general). This “cliffhanger” aspect to Rakka might not sit well with viewers who want the story to come full circle by the end, but most audiences won’t help but be intrigued by the film’s otherworldly premise and highly enrossed by its drama, action, and gritty terror. Blomkamp’s Rakka, along with other short films by Oats Studio, can be viewed in full on the company’s YouTube channel, which can be found here.
For those who want more than mindless entertainment, Rakka is a grim and hefty piece of work, providing just a glimpse of what life might be like if death loomed around every corner, if all our freedoms were stripped away, and if the places we call home became nothing more than prison camps or abject hovels. For these reasons and more, the film is a must-watch for movie fans of every genre.