- Reviewed from the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.
Cryptids – extremely rare animals whose existence is not officially confirmed – are brought to life in Dash Shaw and Jane Samborski’s stunning, singular, animated vision. Comparable works are few and far between but Cryptozoo is most vividly reminiscent of René Laloux’s cult sci-fi animation Fantastic Planet (if it cross-pollinated with the mythical beasts of Dungeons & Dragons). A current of late 60s counterculture ripples through the aesthetics and attitudes of the film.
Lauren Grey (Lake Bell) collects cryptids on behalf of an animal-loving sanctuary (the ‘Cryptozoo’ of the title); the bad guy, a stereotype of gun toting Vietnam War-era machismo, is set on weaponising the cryptids and selling them off to the US military for a big payoff. The plot is bold, brash and robust and sets up plenty of sequences designed to display the artwork in its ever-changing styles. I was hypnotised.
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