A mix of working class spacers and corporate employees are on a planetary expedition. SOMETHING is captured by the ship while they’re hibernating and it starts to infect everyone onboard. When the infection matures, it turns its hosts into Shoggoth-like monstrosities that amass into a singular THING. The dwindling survivors do their best to find a way to stop it and get out with their lives.
Yeah. That’s an Alien movie. Yeah. That’s a Thing movie. The 80s had plenty of movies that were inspired by and were knockoffs of both, and this is yet another one of them. If you wanna be reductive you can call this a glorified fanfic, but I think there’s quite a bit going on here under its surface to elevate it beyond a lot of the other movies following the trend.
The main “twist” is clever enough. Yeah, the corporation behind the expedition doesn’t trust the human crew to follow through with the mission as thoroughly as they’d like, so they placed an advanced AI loyal to the company on the ship to REALLY control things. That AI just happens to take the form of the lead woman’s pet cat, hence the title of the OVA. It’s clever not just in the fact that most viewers would never suspect the cute little cat to be the evil corporate culprit, it’s also a neat little nod to how, other than Sigourney Weaver, the cat was the only other survivor of the original Alien movie. “How’d else would Jonesy live if he wasn’t in on the scheme to begin with?” is the sort of post-movie gag I’d make after watching a movie like Alien, and to see Lily C.A.T. carry out that sort of joke in a literal, serious way is pretty awesome.
But what really makes this one interesting is the way it addresses the ramifications of going through multiple 40+ year cycles of space travel and the accompanying hibernation. The working class types who are supposed to be running the ship’s day to day functions are all veterans who have made multiple multi-decade journeys. The way things work, they only age a month or so over the course of the 20 year one way trip, but they’ve each been alive for at least 150 years. They’ve seen people they grew up with age and die. They’ve seen technology change. They’ve seen society change and leave them behind. They don’t feel a part of ANYTHING, and thus retreat back to yet another decades long haul to find some semblance of stability. None of them go on a full-on angsty rant about it or anything, but the characters let you know how they feel, and I think they do a pretty good job of addressing this idea in this OVA’s short run time. And when you couple this with how it also addresses some of the corporate type’s reasons for getting away (ignored and unsuccessful, petty jealousy of friends, running away from the law), it makes for a pretty decent little character study that makes this more than just another 80s sci-fi trend hopper.
If this were a little longer and had more room to let this stuff breathe, and more room to make the monster a little more interesting, this could have a chance at being an all-timer. As is, it’s pretty darn cool for an hour long wannabe OVA.
That ending, where all their former friends scream for help as the THING burns up upon entering that planet’s atmosphere is pretty damn haunting, though. Just kinda wish we got more of THAT “absorbed and want to end this agony” stuff with the monster along the way.