Neill Blomkamp’s supernatural jungle thriller ‘Firebase’ review


Neill Blomkamp released his second effort with Oats Studios yesterday. We were lucky enough to get a look at this incredibly disturbing short film at 1428 Elm.

What if Predator was from the very depths of hell?

Birth of a god

Immediately when I started watching this film which takes place during the 1960s in Vietnam, I got a sense of what Predator might have been like if Neill Blomkamp would have directed it.

There is something terrorizing American soldiers in the jungle. It is a silent threat that is able to blow helicopters up and raise their occupants into the sky. This entity is capable of lifting entire tanks and transporting them out of this realm. Sgt. Hines (Steve Boyle) has survived the wrath of the “River God” and he has lived to tell the tale.

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CIA operative, Jacob Palmer (Nic Rhind) is sent in to figure out how to eliminate the problem. He finds Hines and the two head to another base to talk with Sgt. Bracken (Tyler Johnston) a survivor of the Firebase Tarheel massacre.

When Palmer and Hines arrive, they are taken to meet with him. Half of the flesh on Bracken’s body has been seared off. He recounts the hell that he witnessed. Shots were being fired everywhere from the Viet Cong. His unit was pinned down. They couldn’t escape.

The River God (Carlo Yu) appears. The being is a skeleton but it wears a suit of a hard flesh like substance that is the color of blood. This armor gives it a distinctly demon like appearance. Locking eyes with Bracken, the god transports him back to America.

Great Balls of Fire

He suddenly finds himself on the airbase in Charleston. It almost feels like he has time traveled or gone into another realm. Weird things start happening. A Russian MIG lands but not like a traditional plane, more like a rocket. Firebombs explode like weapons from the vessel burning everything and everyone in their wake.

One of these balls hits Bracken and sets him on fire. Then mysteriously, he finds himself back in the jungle. All of his dead friends are resurrected and apparently have been converted into cockroach beings or spiders.

After Bracken tells his story, it is decided that he will be missing in action and that Firebase Tarheel never existed. Hines is pretty shaken up after listening to him. Palmer decides to confront Hines about his experience with the god.

Courtesy of Oats Studios


Divine Intervention

Hines tells him that he is having dreams and visions but he can’t understand what is being said to him. Palmer reveals that he heard the accounts of what happened and apparently Hines is protected and no harm can come to him. Things would block incoming shrapnel or gunfire from hitting him.

It is as if Hines is not meant to die because the universe has a higher plan for him. He asks Palmer if the River God is the devil. Palmer explains that he is a mistake. He delves into the lore of the deadly entity.

At one time, the god was a mortal. He was a man with a wife and a family living in a village. They were killed and his grief pushed him over the edge. Somehow, he was able to manipulate space and time. An invisible killer, the god could subconsciously raise the dead and cause destruction.

Palmer enlists Hines in the fight to exterminate this being. He is fitted with a space time relativity capsule as well as electro-magnetic weapons to illuminate the god and ultimately kill him. The last shot of this film is Hines going into a metaphysical battle.

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The Good and the Verdict

The Good

This film is action packed. The storyline isn’t quite as linear as Blomkamp’s first venture, Rakka but it doesn’t need to be. This is a war in a spiritual realm not on this earthly plane.

Blomkamp and Thomas Sweterlitsch’s script is tight. It is well written and alternates comfortably between storytelling and action. This short has the feel of a full-length feature. All of the characters are fully developed and believable.

The special FX are amazing. There is quite a bit of gore but it is well executed. Some scenes may not be for the faint of heart but the violence and aftermath is not gratuitous. It enhances the action and serves to make it visceral so that the carnage seems real.

The Verdict

This blend of supernatural science fiction is appealing to anyone who is looking for a fresh take on the demon/monster genre. Blomkamp is proving that Oats Studios is a player and will be a force to be reckoned with in the future.

His product is original and the quality is top notch. You will not be disappointed by Firebase. Blomkamp is a visionary who might just usher in a new age of filmmaking.

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Have you seen any of the short films from Oats Studios? What did you think of Firebase? Would you like to see more from Neill Blomkamp? Feel free to tell us your thoughts in the comment section below.