One could find it a bit of a laugh to elevate the lowly ant from its customarily unappreciated and overlooked status to the role of star protagonist in a frantically-paced adventure film, but there is no joking in Overrun, a monumentally impressive student animation that is a deathly serious thrill-ride of danger.
The plot takes almost no time to lay out—a solitary ant is dropped into an unfamiliar environment, and its struggle to free itself is beset on all sides by danger. While wonderfully executed as an adrenaline-pumping action showcase, it is the art that is the star of the film, as our hero ant comes vividly to life in beautiful photo-realistic CG. Even for students of France’s acclaimed animation school MoPa (formerly Supinfocom), whom we’ve come to expect amazing CG eye-candy from, Overrun is a standout performer, winning SIGGRAPH’s Best Student Project Award in 2018.
A close analogue to Overrun for short film aficionado’s would be SIGGRAPH’s student winner from the previous year (also a MoPa film btw), Garden Party. Similar to that work, which impressed audiences all the way to an Oscar nomination, the photo-real CG of Overrun looks to the natural world in painstakingly recreating the alien motions of non-human protagonists, and both films even feature a similarly morbid twist ending. While Garden Party possesses a playful aspect to its macabre mystery that is missing here, and which makes it a subjectively better film, Overrun substitutes in a visceral propulsion that is intense and breath-taking, set in a hauntingly beautiful science fiction-esque world that surprises with its eventually revealed mundanity. Turns out anything and everything can seem fantastical when you play with scale!