EDITOR’S NOTE: With all the annual “Top Ten Lists” lists sending our memories racing back to the best that 2007 had to offer, we thought this would be a good time to post a review of a fine borderline genre film that we had previously overlooked because it came out early last year, before Cinefantastique Online powered up.
David Fincher (director of SEVEN) returns to serial killer territory with this fact-based movie about the infamous Zodiac murderer, who taunted police in the San Francisco Bay area in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Based on two non-fiction books by Robert Graysmith, the lengthy scenario tries to pack in as much information as possible about the search for the killer, whose identity was never determined. (No one was ever indicted, much less convicted, for any of the Zodiac’s crimes.) Early sequences – which depict the handful of murders definitely attributed to Zodiac (he claimed numerous others) – are grim and horrifying, playing upon audience awareness that these are real people who died. Later, the film slides into a bit of a rut as the case grows cold and the efforts to solve it fall to Graysmith (played by Gyllenhaal), a newspaper cartoonist-turned-amateur-sleuth, who refuses to give up the search. Nevertheless, ZODIAC displays an admirable attention to the details of the case and the era, emerging as a solid effort to capture a piece of history on celluloid.