Greetings from the Ethereal Plane,
We recently reviewed the first chapter in the freshman volume of OATS Studios, that being “Rakka.” OATS Studios is a collection of short films by critically acclaimed (and critically polarizing) director Neill Blomkamp, of District 9, Elysium, and Chappie fame. We now present to you our review for the second installment of this anthology-style series, “Firebase.” Neill Blomkamp once again proves himself to be a formidable director with an unmatched talent for visceral and practical horror, while never straying from socially charged topics.
Based during the Vietnam War, this short film revolves around a soldier who is hunting a supernatural being named the River God. We won’t dive too deep into what or who the River God is, but between this monster’s invulnerability and apparent loss of humanity, there is something deep about the villain of “Firebase” that makes it difficult to take sides. When the creature’s origin is finally revealed, it forebodes a sense of karma and justice for the atrocities that were the Vietnam War.
Blomkamp cleverly mashes sickening sequences of grotesque gore with mind-numbing and hallucinogenic moments that will also lend a sensational drug-induced stupor to the viewer. The CGI is once again masterful, never rendering the story unbelievable or flimsy. “Firebase” launches with dread from the opening sequence, and unlike its predecessor and successor, this short is a slow burning match that culminates to yet another cliffhanger, making us beg for more.
The methodically-paced grimness that encompasses “Firebase” is complimentary to the setting and topic of the Vietnam War. Blomkamp utilizes many interesting techniques to make the short feel “vintage” in a way. These moments, coupled with believable characters and dialogue, strike a certain chord with our notions of this dark era in the United States. Despite having a few plot points that are either cliched or lacking of genuine creativity, Blomkamp compensates with illustrious scenery and cinematography, an impending sense of doom, melancholy, and tense sequences that will jar your stomach for days to come.
Whereas “Rakka” implemented a survivalist nature with its human characters, “Firebase” focuses on the deep, underlining guilt that plagues the topic of the Vietnam War. The philosophy in “Firebase” is handled well, while also combining mythological themes with authentic locations and events. Blomkamp has never been afraid to tread waters that most would find daunting, and he proves to have made the right decision in challenging himself to present such a multi-faceted and morose tale of guilt and retribution.
OUR RATING: 4/5
Watch the full short film here: