Writer-director Dash Shaw’s Cryptozoo — featuring animation direction by Jane Samborski — explores the limits of personal responsibility and the importance of stepping back to consider the big picture from time to time, especially one’s own ever-shifting place within it. Gizmodo got to view the film early at Sundance, but now you can get a peek at what it’s all about from its first trailer.
Cryptozoo gives us complex characters who evolve as they confront those themes. And it wraps its fanciful story in brilliant animation that basically defines “eye candy” while imagining a world where cryptids and mythical beasts long for the freedom to just be their own strange, sometimes scary selves. After winning the Innovator Award in the (virtual) 2021 Sundance Film Festival’s NEXT category, which spotlights films that “unite digital technology with the art of movie-making,” Cryptozoo was picked up for distribution by Magnolia Pictures, which means its truly unique story and visuals will finally reach their full glory on the big screen. Here’s the first official trailer, just released today:
Lake Bell stars as Lauren, a cryptozookeeper who travels around rescuing persecuted cryptids and bringing them to the sanctuary she’s devoted her life to serving. But she begins to question her crusade — and the Cryptozoo itself — after she meets Phoebe (Angeliki Papoulia), a Gorgon who’s been able to live among humans with the help of special contact lenses and snake tranquilizers (for her hair). Meanwhile, the U.S. military lurks on the fringes, hoping to find a way to weaponize some of the exhibits that are kept under Lauren’s watchful eye.
The rest of the voice cast includes Zoe Kazan, Michael Cera, Louisa Krause, Peter Stormare, Thomas Jay Ryan, and Grace Zabriskie, in a film that also features an on-screen array of manticores, dragons, a Kraken, a child whose face is on their torso, and many more.
Cryptozoo opens August 20.