- 2007 Thriller/Mystery
- 2hr 42 min
After 51 years, one of the Zodiac’s ciphers was recently decoded. And just like that, the elusive boogeyman we all grew up with is back. Did he ever really go away?
No. This is what this movie gets so perfectly about its subject, and why it is worth a revisit. The Zodiac, a very real, human serial killer, became a supernatural vampiric monster by the simple fact that he was never caught. He is unseen, even when doing unspeakably evil things. He manages to end the life of innocent people in terrible ways, and then to slowly drain the life away from those who make it their mission to find him.
The terror of his presence, then, is matched by the terror of his absence. This is the idea the film sets out to convey, and it does this by stacking up the actual crimes in the beginning of the film. Within the first few minutes, there is a random murder, followed by a brutal stabbing scene in broad daylight without the camera once moving away. It is ugly, pointless and cruel.
Ah, but then, just as the audience prepares for the usual cat and mouse set up this type of story features… the murders stop. No more onscreen gore. Nothing, in a movie almost 3 hours long. Like the novel Lolita, which promises all sorts of salacious scenes in the beginning only to never deliver them, the audience is left missing something it never wanted to see in the first place, something it shouldn’t want to see, so that there is nothing left but dread, vague disappointment and a sense that there is something wrong with you for wanting to follow the story to its logical conclusion. It is the rabbit hole that leads to obsession.
Zodiac is a true horror film. I really wish more directors approached the subject from this angle. Often, the scariest stories are about looking in the mirror and not recognizing the thing that’s staring back at you.
That’s the point of Zodiac. His power is in his ability to make you obsess over his evil. A vampire does not have to be supernatural. The Zodiac, if you let him in, doesn’t need fangs to drain you. Even 51 years later, after the killer himself is probably long dead, the draining continues.