Lionsgate // 2007 // 80 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // May 25th, 2007
It is my gift. It is my curse. (Reviewing crappy movies like this that is.)
Having suffered through two Uli Lommel films (Boogeyman 3 and Green River Killer, two truly terrifying digital experiences), I have come to expect a degree of, um, monstrous wasting of time. Curse of the Zodiac is the best of the bunch so far in terms of not being as laughably horrible, but it still falls far, far short of resembling anything close to an entertaining experience.
Lommel's films have all been ham-string by distracting stylistic choices. In Boogeyman 3, he recycled footage from the previous films and included them wholesale and with Green River Killer, to artificially bolster the "creep-out" factor, Lommel injected random footage from a slaughterhouse (?!). Man, those were bad flicks.
For Curse of the Zodiac, the director unveils a new stylistic choice: ADHD, drug-addled camera work. The guy uses every single camera trick in the book (that book would be 1,000 Things You Can Do In Your Movie That Will Hurt the Viewer's Brain: Second Edition), from lightning-quick edits, fades, zooms and pans, crazy angles, jittery visual effects, oversaturated colors, slow motion, fast motion, you name it, and he inflates them with PCP and throws them on screen for your "enjoyment." You can count the number of static, traditional scenes on one hand and despite how cool the editors must have thought the zaniness was in theory, in practice, this film is nearly unwatchable.
Not that you're missing a terrible amount of substance though. Inspired by the story of the still-at-large Zodiac Killer, the film runs through the events, showing us brief shots of the titular killer (who narrates in this weird guttural voice that grows tiresome fast), but focusing mainly on the tortured psychic who has visions of the killings and her relationship with the nearly-mute journalist that receives the Zodiac's exclusive phone calls. The movie plays out like this: Zodiac killer wanders around, the camera shakes a lot, he kills a girl, the camera shakes a lot, the psychic gets a headache and has a vision of the crime scene, the camera shakes a lot, Zodiac calls the journalist and talks trash, the camera shakes a lot and repeat x4. Even if you're able to penetrate the insane editing, the narrative within will almost certainly bore your migraine-having ass. Add to that, the acting is universally atrocious -- the scenes with the psychic and her boyfriend are a case study on how to miss cues and flub line.
So will you learn anything about the Zodiac killer? I suppose so. Lommel is nice enough to bracket his film with informative text, but I would submit that you can cull even more info from a Wikipedia entry. I guarantee it will hurt your eyeballs less. Bottom line: stay away from the film. Lommel's directorial style is almost as lethal as the Zodiac killer himself.
Silver lining: this is the best looking Lommel film I've seen. Obviously he got his hands on some more technologically advanced equipment, as the digital video quality (1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen) is sharper than previous outings. Audio clocks in at 2.0 stereo. For extras, you get a nearly inaudible director's commentary, pointless bonus footage and still gallery.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 80 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Director's Commentary
* Bonus Footage
* Still Gallery