‘Toonocalypse’ Will Be ‘Cloverfield’ Meets ‘Roger Rabbit’

By  · Published on February 15th, 2014

If short films are the new calling card for Hollywood hopefuls, then I’d like to jump the gun a bit and draw everyone’s attention to Toonocalypse. It doesn’t exist yet, but when it does it’ll be a Scottish sci-fi short, live-action mixed with animation, probably around 15 minutes in length, about cute, two-dimensional cartoon aliens who land on Earth. The pitch is that it’s Cloverfield meets Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and I’m thinking that Gremlins and District 9 are relevant to the plot, as well. The film follows these toons’ acceptance by and entry into society followed by a revelation, one year later, that they’re not as adorable and peaceful as they seemed.

It’s all shown through the lens of a student’s camera as he documents the events. Yeah, found footage and documentary-style movies are becoming tired, but we occasionally see something worthwhile in the format, like Chronicle. I don’t know that every genre and subgenre needs its own found footage entry, but the Gremlins/Critters/Attack the Block type seems like a good fit. If E.T. was made now, Elliot would have a camera phone in the iconic extraterrestrial’s face immediately. So, I give writer/director Owen Rixon some credit and a break for coming up with this idea that is somewhat unoriginal yet something I really want to watch.

At the moment, that idea is in the pre-production stage, as Toonocalypse is currently crowdfunding through Kickstarter for the £7,000 ($11.5K) needed to make the short. They’ve shot some test footage already, though, so you can see how some of it’s going to look in the campaign video down below. I also recommend checking out the showreels on the website of The 2D Workshop, which is the Edinburgh-based production company run by Rixon, as well as their Vimeo page, where you can see a plane crash VFX test done for Toonocalypse. They’re a fairly new bunch, but they seem to be doing a variety of great things.

Feature films isn’t one of them yet, but Rixon tells me that’s part of the plan for the future. Whether or not Toonocalypse could be expanded is undetermined, yet it seems like a viable premise that Hollywood would be interested in. Not that Hollywood needs to be involved. A resurgence of the small alien invasion movie has been best lately set in London (Attack the Block) and Ireland (Grabbers), so it’s fitting if the next one is done in Scotland. One important point, though, is that those two other movies are so relevant to their locations – as is District 9. I don’t know that the Toonocalypse story couldn’t be redone anywhere else in the world.

As is the case with many crowdfunding movies that have some special artistic component, the Kickstarter perks for Toonocalypse include some really neat ideas involving the alien designs. You can adopt a creature (see the fake commercial for that here) and pay extra if you want to make sure to be assigned one that will be featured in the film. Or you can pledge enough to have yourself caricatured in the form of an alien and pay extra if you want to make sure that your alien form appears in the film, too.

According to the campaign’s incentive list, specifically the packages including digital copies of the finished short, we can expect to see Toonocalypse by January 2015. How long after that for the feature-length version that I hope follows is anyone’s guess.

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.