The premise of Cryptozoo might sound like a fun romp for younger children – a zoo whose inhabitants include a unicorn, pegasus and fawn – but this animated film is decidedly adult-oriented. Less Saturday morning cartoon, more violence, gore and nudity.
Featuring Lake Bell, Michael Cera and Peter Stormare as voice actors, Cryptozoo is a menagerie of gorgeous grotesqueries. Heroine Lauren (Bell) strives to rescue cryptids from persecution – from familiar gorgons to a creature that eats nightmares – to shelter them in the comparative sanctity of the titular zoo.
Director Dash Shaw has crafted an incredibly distinctive aesthetic that draws from psychedelic animation of the ‘60s and ‘70s, whether it’s the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine music video, Heavy Metal or René Laloux’s Fantastic Planet. This is all in service of a tumultuous tale that interrogates contemporary prejudices.