Saturday, October 30, 2010


or: Why I love quietly terrifying movies...

One word to sum it up: Terrifying.

I love David Fincher movies. There's just something about them which I love, just like there's something about Christopher Nolan movies which I love. Zodiac is no exception. It's not an all out horror or thriller, but it still managed to scare the crumbs out of me. I swear, I was biting my nails for most of this movie I was so scared.

In San Francisco, beginning in the late 1960's, a serial killer known only as 'The Zodiac Killer', taunts the local newspaper with letters using a cryptic code. Three people become particularly taken by this case: a journalist Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.) who is responsible for writing about the Zodiac's killing; Inspector David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) who unsuccessfully tries to hunt down the killers true identity; and cartoonist Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal), who takes it upon himself to find the killer, while writing a book about the Zodiac.

While the fact that this film doesn't portray any of the Zodiac's infamous murders and just shows people describing what happened may not appeal to some people, this dialogue driven thriller is definitely worth the watch. It zeroes in on fear and it's reliance on describing the killings in other ways than showing them really scared the crap out of me. Fincher puts you into the film from the beginning; you sit there and listen to the Zodiac breathing down the phone, you are in the car with who might be the killer, you are writing the book with Robert Graysmith. This kind of thing isn't easily done, but I have never found a work to be so compelling over it's slightly long running time and come out of it with all these new fears awoken. Obviously, there aren't any clear answers at the end, which is when you might feel a little cheated, but what the hell? This psychological thriller is one that will mess with your head, just like the Zodiac did to all of those people.

The three main performances from Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., and Mark Ruffalo were all top notch, and definitely deserve more credit than they got. The fact that our hero, Robert Graysmith was a little on the weak side impacted on the film: his obsession with the Zodiac was like someone who had an obsession with comics. However, David Fincher again makes a masterpiece, albeit a fearsome and challenging one, but definitely captivating. The way he directed the stabbing scene at Lake Berryessa was singlehandedly one of the most disturbing, well-composed scenes I have ever seen.

THE VERDICT: A compelling psychological thriller with amazing performance and fantastic direction from David Fincher. A clear example of why dialogue driven thrillers are more scary than tortue porn horrors.


  1. The best way to describe David Fincher is he knows how to make one hell of an entertaining film. You know when you walk into the cinema that you're not going to be disappointed, and the first Fincher film I saw in the cinema (The Social Network) I definitely wasn't left thinking 'what a waste of £7' afterwards.

    Actually, the Zodiac murders and the film do have quite a few similarites to Bong Joon-Ho's 2003 film Memories of Murder which I saw in a double bill a few weeks ago, and it was a really excellent movie, you should check it out, especially for you or anyone that likes Zodiac.

    Also agreed with pretty much everything you said in this review, and it is extremely annoying that Jake Gyllenhaal and the rest of the Zodiac crew didn't get any kudos for their acting, same as Fincher.

  2. I saw that this film had 25 nominations (not Oscar ones though), but no wins. That's kinda sad. This movie was truly fantastic!
    I've only seen this, Fight Club and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and I thought they were all fantastic and amazingly entertaining despite their long running times.

  3. Awards can stick it! Some of the greatest films have been completely ignored by the big award ceremonies which have now become so predictable - Zodiac definitely wouldn't have been predictable at all, but Fincher has been pretty much ignored by the Oscars, Globes and Baftas, that's why I steer more to The Venice film festival and Cannes winners, since they do pick worthy films (mosta the time)

    You've gotta check out Zodiac, which I think, is classic Fincher (pre-Fight Club)and does have a pretty creepy factor about it too. I haven't got round to seeing The Curious Case of Benjamin Button but I feel it's going to be an enormous tear-jerker. But I have seen Fight Club, The Social Network, Zodiac, Seven and Panic Room (the latter being the weakest I think, which was a shame - it had some great shots in it)

  4. Oh The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a HUGE tearjerker. Funny thing is, I watched it at least five times before crying at the end, and now every time I have watched it since then I always cry. I'm trying really hard to track down Seven, maybe it might be on TV soon or something. I really want to see it!


You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.


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