Toonocalypse takes a classic and straightforward idea – aliens come to earth – but tells it with so distinctive a style it feels like something truly unique. The toons are all bright, colourful and vaguely human-shaped small blobs who communicate entirely in adorable squeaks, and their 2D animation clashes with the live action of the rest of the film to create a scenario compellingly bizarre yet somehow believable.
Such is the power of the psychedelic mesmerism, you don’t immediately register that the film’s style is that most questionable of popular contemporary filmmaking techniques: found footage. It seems to be a common (and frankly bewildering) misconception among low budget filmmakers that the POV gimmick is all it takes to make up for an absence of originality or resources. However, in this case the format gives the story an important personal perspective, quickly giving us a cross section of reactions to the toons’ appearance and allowing us to share the characters’ lack of true understanding of them.
When the chaos abruptly commences, the seamlessness of the effects integration is given further showcasing, most significantly with the sight of central Edinburgh being pounded into an urban wasteland; buildings aflame, roads torn apart and debris falling to the ground in a black rain of ash. The film makes good use of the city centre locations, from its opening of the alien ships’ descent towards the picturesque extinct volcano of Arthur’s Seat to its culmination atop Calton Hill, from which is seen a postcard panorama of the city being slowly crushed in the grip of apocalyptic cephalopod tentacles.
A pulp sci-fi story for the modern day, in less than twenty minutes Toonocalypse deftly demonstrates that complicated stories are not always necessary for compelling viewing, and that a little imagination can take you a very long way.
TOONOCALYPSE / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: OWEN RIXON / SCREENPLAY: CALLUM BARTON, OWEN RIXON, SIGGY STONE / STARRING: DAVID KAYE, MATT MARTIN, JAMES CARNEY / RELEASE DATE: TBC
Expected Rating: 7 out of 10