Worth A Look: 56%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 4%
3 reviews, 7 user ratings
by Chris Parry
SCREENED AT THE 2003 'HAD TO BE MADE' FILM FESTIVAL: Wow. I honestly can't say that a feature film has ever so successfully put me in a day-long funk as this one. I mean, I found myself stuck to the couch, unable or unwilling to move, just staring at TV with the sound muted thinking about what I'd just witnessed. What did I think about this film? Was it right and just? Did it seek to promote the villains that make up its core? Was it justifying school massacres and teen angst freaks who believe that just because they can't get a girlfriend, others should die? To be honest, I still don't really know for sure. And that's why Zero Day is a must-see.Ever asked yourself why people go on the Jerry Springer Show and reveal what morons they are? So you like to dress up in Saran Wrap and whip yourself with a riding crop, great, but why would you tell the world about it on a trashy TV show?
"This film totally fucked with my head. That's a good thing, by the way."
Quite simply because we as a society look at someone who gets on TV because they slept with their sister as being worth far more than a scientist who is never on TV but finds a cure for Alzheimer's. We seek autographs from people whose only claim to fame is that they weren't voted off an island. We buy albums recorded by people who were nobodies until some TV persoanlity decided they were better than every other nobody.
So who's going to tell the next Dylan and Klebold that the answer to their teenage anonymity isn't a carbine weapon that can kill from 150 yards, when we all tune in and remember their names once they use that weapon on their classmates in an 'look at me'-type massacre?
When the Columbine massacre happened and dozens of students at Littleton, Colorado lost their lives to a pair of disgruntled teenage gunmen, the entire world wondered how such an event could happen. In a seemingly average part of the world, at a school that wasn't known as a hotbed of nastiness, involving a pair of students that weren't particularly threatening, it just seemed like something that should never have actually happened. Surely someone could have stopped it. Surely someone could have seen it coming. Surely something could have been done.
Which brings us to Zero Day. Two teenagers, Cal and Andre, sit in a basement and plot against the world. They hate their school, they hate the popular assholes that populate said school, they hate society, they hate those around them, and even though their parents and relatives seem to be everyday loving folks who do more than plenty for their ungrateful brats, these guys don't seem to give two shits about the folks who bred them.
If you're thinking that a Littleton-like high school disturbance is coming, you're on the right path. And as we see from the teenagers' own home video camera footage as they make preparations for the 'zero day', such an event isn't a spur-of-the-moment situation - it's planned and worked up to for a loooooong time. That their parents don't catch on doesn't mean that they are careless, it means the kids are smart.
Cal and Andre aren't dumb kids. They're not pathetic losers, nor are they unloved throwaway children, and they sure as heck aren't 'born evil'. They're just teenagers without a point to their lives, who seem to think that making a loud point (which they themselves can't even really explain) matters more than anything else in the world. They're products of the celebrity-worshipping generation that we're all a part of, where having Wolf Blitzer talk about you on a 'news show with attitude' means more than the sanctity of human life, or your own life's achievements.
Whether Zero Day applauds such actions or condemns them will be the point of many commentators as they discuss this movie, but they're missing the point. Zero Day's reason for being is not to applaud or boo, it's to show you what happens without the 'spin' and emotion and dramatic music and slow-mo recreations that we get from TV.
Zero Day's message is that what made Columbine happen was simple - some kids flipped a switch in their heads that turned off logic and compassion. They decided to do something big and get famous and make a point, and at every step of the way those around them were oblivious to what was going on. They obtained guns from 'peace loving, law abiding gun owners'. They tested the weapons with a 'law-abiding relative' who took them out target shooting. They planned their big day with patience and precision and when the big day came they did their thing and somewhere along the line their point was lost.
Zero Day is a film that should have been made five years ago, but there isn't a single filmmaker out there that had the balls or brains to handle the topic smartly. Benjamin Coccio, with a micro-budget and damn near no equipment, has done what Hollywood was too scared to do - addressed the topic of Columbine in a feature film, in a way that is effective and memorable.
Has he honed it to perfection? Hell no, in fact he's very possibly trod the wrong side of the fine line before him (you be the judge), but he's also managed to create something that WILL make you sit up and take notice, even if only to say 'this shouldn't have been made'. As the film winds towards its harrowing final ten minutes, you'll not only see the finale coming, you'll dread its arrival and even possibly wonder if what you're seeing is real footage or not.
Just as happened with another low budget indie, The Blair Witch Project, the best way to see this film is without too much advance knowledge, and that means not even knowing if the footage you're watching is from an actual event or a put-on. The impact of what you see will only be magnified if you see it with unknowing eyes, and take it from me that it will leave a scar.
I'm still rying to work out how I feel about the politics of this film. Should it have shown what it showed? should it have ended ten minutes earlier? Did it take the sensational route and lose its own point? I honestly can't say one way or another. It'll tick some people off, it'll thrill others, and that makes it ten times more important than the last five Hollywood films you've seen.If you want to see this film for yourself (and you should), you'll need to find an independent video store that stocks films from the Had To Be Made Film Festival. This particular film is on disc #3 of volume 1, and is shown alongside two very good low-budget short films: Fall of Man, directed by Tyler Measom, and Waiting Room, directed by Natasa Prosenc. Fall of Man is a great little flick about a man's roadside run-in with the devil, while Waiting Room is a Twilight Zone-esque look at a group of doctor's patients who lose their patience. For more information, take a look at http://www.hadtobemade.com
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=7620&reviewer=1
originally posted: 05/22/03 15:57:28
|OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Vancouver Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Fantasia Festival For more in the 2005 Fantasia Festival series, click here.