This film was previously reviewed in January 2021 as part of our Sundance Festival coverage.

Dash Shaw and Jane Samborski’s Cryptozoo takes viewers on a journey along with cryptozookeepers who set out to capture a Baku, a dream-eating creature. Cryptozoo is a collection of art pieces that have had life breathed into them. There are a variety of different art mediums and styles used throughout this meticulously hand drawn film that accompany the intriguing storyline, which all amount to a disorienting yet impressive whole that contains so much attention to detail.

After they enter the forest, Matt (Michael Cera) tells Amber (Louisa Krause) that his favourite thing about her personality is her imagination, and imagination is clearly the most vital aspect of this entire film. Without the vast imaginations of the creators and artists involved in the making of Cryptozoo, the world within wouldn’t be as immersive as it is. This film’s runtime of 95 minutes is not very long, yet the world that is created within that time feels vast, as if it could extend beyond the constraints of fantasy. Not only is the art style and the world building an essential part of why this strange film works, but it’s also the work of the voice actors such as Lake Bell and Angeliki Papoulia that help draw people in.

Amongst the fantastical nature of this film are also interesting discussions, such as the idea of what a Utopian dream would actually look like and treating people who aren’t like you as outsiders, that manage to ground the story in reality.

All of the equally wonderful elements within Cryptozoo coalesce into a trippy viewing experience unlike anything seen before, one that will certainly not appeal to everyone’s tastes. But this is a film that clearly has a lot of heart behind it, making it compelling despite the bizarre subject matter.



CAST: Lake Bell, Michael Cera, Angeliki Papoulia, Zoe Kazan, Peter Stormare, Grace Zabriskie, Louisa Krause, Thomas Jay Ryan

DIRECTORS: Dash Shaw, Jane Samborski

WRITER: Dash Shaw

SYNOPSIS: Cryptozookeepers try to capture a Baku and start wondering if they should display these beasts or keep them hidden.