"Shots in the Dark"
What You Need To Know:
Just like the investigator its story features, THE ZODIAC seems to be probing at times without knowing which way it wants to go next. To make up for the hesitation in the script, the director chooses to manipulate the audience through various cinematic devices. At best, THE ZODIAC is a serious attempt to turn a serial killer’s dastardly acts into a sobering statement against violence. Ultimately, THE ZODIAC provides little constructive content and suffers from many problems, including violence, alcoholism, very strong language, and a pagan worldview
(PaPa, LLL, VVV, S, A, D, M). Strong dominant pagan worldview focuses on a serial killer and his victims; at least 24 obscenities and two profanities; very violent content, including graphic depiction of several murders; light sexual content in the portrayal of a husband and wife engaging in foreplay, as well as teenage couples depicted hanging out together for sexually related activity; no nudity; numerous scenes of alcohol use; numerous scenes of smoking; and, killer stalks victims and taunts police, and investigation puts strain on detective's family relationships.
Based on true events, THE ZODIAC is a historical thriller that follows a string of well-publicized murders by a serial killer operating in the outskirts of late 1960s San Francisco.
Sergeant Matt Parish (Justin Chambers) is a small town cop assigned to the case of murders outside of San Francisco. He initially seems confident that his investigative knowledge and experience will quickly lead him to the culprit. As time passes, however, the case proves much more daunting and inexplicable than he originally anticipated. Even Matt’s loving relationships with his wife, Laura (Robin Tunney), and son, Johnny (Rory Culkin), start to falter under the serious strain that the case is putting on all of them. The community itself seems to be in a constant state of unease, and the mere threat of Zodiac lurking in the shadows yields enough power to affect the behavior and attitudes of many of the residents in the area.
The movie begins when two teenagers at a “lovers’ lane” are interrupted by a killer who shoots them at pointblank range. The killer soon strikes again, but this time one of the victims survives and is able to provide a description of the attacker. This new development may be just what Matt needs to find Zodiac, but his promising leads, as well as various other strategies he devises, simply do not pan out. Meanwhile, the investigator’s marriage appears to be on the verge of becoming another victim, not to the killer, but to Matt’s personal obsession with the case.
Just like the investigator its story features, THE ZODIAC seems to be probing at times, without knowing which way it wants to go next. To make up for the hesitation, director Alexander Bulkley, rather than picking up the pace by re-examining the script, chooses to manipulate the audience through various cinematic devices. Sounds of gunshots are heard from time to time without being linked to actual shootings, contrived acts of suspense are used for shock value, and various montages of movie clips showing menacing villains interspersed with footage of shooting war scenes and political demonstrations, is presented in artsy fashion. All this could lead the audience to reflect on the evil and violence which permeates societies all over the world, and why serial killers can, and do, pop up here and there like poisonous weeds on a regular basis.
At best, THE ZODIAC is a serious attempt to turn a serial killer’s dastardly acts into a sobering statement against violence. On the positive side, the movie does perhaps give its audience a better understanding of how this type of scourge can affect everyday people. For the most part, however, the movie appeals to its audience’s voyeuristic appetites, and frames the story within the context of good period set design, professional production values, and competent performances. Unfortunately, it is just not enough to make THE ZODIAC a movie which could be recommended to anyone other than film students.
Ultimately, THE ZODIAC provides very little constructive content and suffers from many problems, including violence, alcoholism, strong language, and a pagan worldview.