VOD Releases: Awakening The Zodiac (2017) - Reviewed

Genius. Killer. Manipulator. Cypher. A hooded figure terrorized California and taunted the police with his unbreakable codes. Decades later, the mystery has never been cracked. Now, the criminal mastermind gets another notch in his cinematic belt with Jonathan Wright's Awakening The Zodiac. 

It was bound to happen. The Zodiac Killer has been brought back to the screen in a movie that brings him into present day as a rural couple stumbles on old film reels that captured his crimes. Being one of those that was turned on to the unsolved case some time in the late '90s, I've seen almost every television special, movie, and have read numerous books on the topic. Of course, this film was of interest to me and will definitely spawn more conversation on what ever happened to the killer and if there will ever by closure to the cold case file. While the real murderer is likely dead by now, Awakening The Zodiac pits an able bodied senior citizen against a young set of mobile home dwellers that want to cash in on a huge cash reward. The results are unexpectedly intense.

Honestly, it's shocking how well made this project is. With great cinematography and a dirty tone that seems like a back road take on S7ven, Wright aims high and ends up creating a tight thriller that often times hits the mark and sometimes totally misses. Where they could have fallen back on ninety minutes of standardized horror tropes and dumbed down scares, Zodiac delivers some taut moments that actually made those little hairs on my arm stand up several times. Shane West and Leslie Bibb do a fine job with the script they're handed, making some of the inexcusable flaws easier to swallow. Their chemistry is balanced and they have a cool vibe that plays naturally for the screen. 

Honey, I'm sorry. But we can't put a microwave in the sex van. 

People that have followed the case will find massive plot holes throughout this movie. Some of them you could drive a truck through. First, it's hard to believe that a killer in his eighties or nineties is going to all of a sudden come out of retirement. Second, everything about Awakening The Zodiac is way too easy. But, it still presents a unique 'what if' scenario that's undoubtedly entertaining. As a piece of escapist cinema that rides the coattails of the most notorious unsolved murder spree ever, Wright's movie gets a passing grade for turning in a creepy project that's loaded with suspense and excellent performances all around. 

This is the Zodiac speaking. I approve of this movie.