Rating: 4 out of 5.

Cryptozoo is a special brand of strange adult animation, the likes of which would find a perfect home at the doorstep of Adult Swim. Beautiful and trippy 2D animation feels like sketchy illustrations brought to life. The sheer scale they are able to achieve on a limited indie budget is jaw-dropping to behold. The film is one big drug trip, and writer/director Dash Shaw hopes to give you the biggest high of your life. The balls-to-the-wall visual style crafts an animated film of beauty and scope that is destined to become an instant cult classic.

Cryptozoology is the study of creatures whose existence has yet to be proven—in Cryptozoo, these creatures have come out of the closet to a distant reception. Humans don’t have a love for these misunderstood beings. They suffer hate crimes and bias, and the formation of safe haven sanctuary, Cryptozoo, acts as the first step in widespread cryptid acceptance. The end goal is to “maybe one day feel safe anywhere in the world,” but can such a world where cryptids can safely coexist ever be a reality? I loved seeing all the various types of creatures the film teases us with—the giant snake was the one that really made me gasp with the spectacle it achieves. Hypnotizing and wild, Cryptozoo has an array of animal deaths, excessive nudity, and the narrative is so bonkers it’s on another planet. You’re either on this film’s colorful wavelength, or its waves will overwhelm and distort your senses with reckless abandon.

Cryptozoo premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, and comes to theaters on August 20th.

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