Candid Cinema

Sundance Film Festival: ‘Cryptozoo’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Cryptozoo is an animated film with such a unique story, that is heavily centered on mythological beings. It is a film that introduces you to a whole other world and makes you care for these creatures, called ‘cryptids’. ‘Cryptids’ are creatures whose existence is disputed or unsupported. They are treated poorly and are segregated from the human race. The film has beautiful imagery, interesting characters and addresses how corrupt the government can be. Some sequences will have you in a trance but then something unexpected happens and cuts through it. There are definitely moments of shock when watching the film and it could only work because of the animation.

We are introduced to a military brat named Lauren, who spent her childhood having really bad nightmares. The reason why she is so attached to these cryptids is because a mythical creature named baku came to eat her dreams, thus relieving her mind of those nightmares. She has dedicated her whole life to protecting these animals, by becoming a ‘cryptozookeeper’ and giving them shelter from those who seek to exploit them. Lauren meets with new cryptids and tries to recruit them to the zoo, in order to keep them safe. She then finds out that, the baku is out there and the government wants to capture it to use it to their own advantage.

Writer-director Dash Shaw creates a fantastical world for these creatures and shines a light on how governments can manipulate their people. The way the story unfolds is really interesting and so much tension was created between the characters, as they fight to protect the baku. “Without dreams, there can be no future.” This line was really important because of how generations cycle back to each other, we can’t grow without ideas and in this particular story baku uses her powers for good and not evil. So naturally, the government would want this creature in their custody for manipulating ideas.

Cryptozoo is colourful, energetic and wildly entertaining. It takes you on an adventurous journey with such interesting characters. The story is well-written and you end up feeling for the cryptids. The direction of this piece is quite fun and the transitions from scene to scene had beautiful imagery. It has a very grounded concept (even though the characters are mythological) but it is rooted in basic human decency and compassion for others around you.

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