Sunday, July 20, 2014

Curse of the Zodiac (2007)

I started having visions in my mind of the Zodiac killer. Even though there's no evidence of supernatural powers being a real thing in this world at all, I began to have vivid dream sequences shot in shaky-cam vomiting nausea style, with the Zodiac mostly just muttering swear words under his breath. I dunno, honestly I’m not sure what was really going on, as I then was overcome with an overwhelming desire to go pay for the services of a prostitute instead of continuing the investigation into the psychic powers of the Zodiac killer.

If that didn’t make any goddamn sense to you, well, congratulations yet again - you’re any person in the world except Ulli Lommel.

Director: Ulli Lommel
Starring: Cassandra Church, Jack Quinn

Yes, made a year after the successful film Zodiac made by David Fincher, Ulli Lommel decided to make a fucking worthless piece of trash called Curse of the Zodiac. Surprise, I’m really not that into this one. This will be a short review, as there is nothing worth talking about in this thing. And I really don’t want to give a hack artist like Lommel any more time-of-day than he deserves. I mean, the guy looks like Dick Dastardly from Wacky Races! How can you trust him with anything?

We start off with some shaky-cam seizure-visions for the opening credits that make it pretty clear exactly what the intent behind this was - send all your viewers into a blind comatose state so they can’t pay attention to the rest of the movie. Heh - “movie.” That’s a good one.

Then we get a text scroll summarizing the Zodiac killer, which is really awesome because it shows Lommel was able to read Wikipedia, which IS awesome since I wouldn’t have guessed he was literate otherwise. Other than that, no, I don’t think a despicably short and plain-looking series of text slides on a boring black background was a particularly good way to tell this real life, interesting crime story that you instead boiled down to an insultingly Neoandethal-ish pile of crap. But hey, serial killers are awesome, man! They’re so dark and tormented and shocking and stuff. So anything about them, even if it’s the worst thing since Rock n’ Roll Frankenstein, must be interesting, right? Right?

We then get an astounding opening with all the poetic wit Lommel could muster - the Zodiac Killer speaking in a raspy voice more befitting of that weirdo on the subway, and calling this journalist guy “fat fuck” over and over. I guess the journalist guy is supposedly investigating Zodiac, but really we never see him do anything but read from books at an agonizingly slow pace in dimly lit rooms.

How about turning up the lights, you fucking idiot? Oh wait, that wouldn’t give you the best excuse ever to not read the script for this movie - carry on, then.

About half of this film’s dialogue is pretty much just made up of the Zodiac muttering obscene nonsense about killing women, and frankly I didn’t even need to hear it the first time, let alone the other 50 times. For some reason at the beginning, he keeps going on little tangents about how his name is spelled; saying things like “You know how my name is spelled, with a Z…” Uh, okay then? Is this a Zodiac Killer children’s picture book, complete with ABC lessons and games? Maybe I’d read that. But only if Jake Gyllenhaal narrated it for the audio-book version.

The other main character is this skittish, skinny white girl who keeps having weird dreams about the Zodiac killer coming to kill her. She blabs about it to her boyfriend/husband/whatever, who is a suave tan-skinned hip hop-looking guy who doesn’t even look like he belongs in the same room as her, let alone a relationship. But why start making sense now?

These two characters look like they were both pulled from two completely different movies. The girl looks like she belongs as a background character in a meet-cute indie romance comedy, maybe at a coffee shop, and the guy looks like he needs to be in a 1970s period drama about an art school.

They have an annoying conversation about whether or not she needs to see a shrink. It kinda goes like this:

“You should really seek help about these visions of a serial killer you’re having in your dreams!”


“I know, but you should really seek some help about all of these weird dreams!”


She also says he’s “getting out of his league” by suggesting she seek help for the obviously distressing dreams she’s having. Getting out of his league? But I love this guy...whatever his name is. Itt’s really asinine for her to be so bitchy to him for just trying to help her out when she’s obviously upset. You’d hope this would just be another one-note kill character, but nope, she’s the heroine for the film! Heh heh heh...somebody get the straitjacket; I think I’m going to need to go away for a while after this review.

We then get a scene with a boring guy who constantly talks like he’s half asleep and a girl whose direction, I believe, was “be as bitchy and rude as possible.” She’s chewing him out for not spending enough time with her, because, yeah, she’s really giving him a lot of incentive to hang out with her! The awful attitude, the constant hang out material!

Is it bad that all I want to do here is make shadow-puppets against the background?

Fortunately the Zodiac kills them, or something - if sticking a gun in her mouth mafia-style while there’s a split-screen with psychic-visions girl holding her head and moaning counts as killing, then I guess that's what happens.

I just...cannot for the life of me understand why this directing choice was made. It is so asinine, so pointless and so amateurish that it’s pretty much indefensible. Lommel has been directing films since the late 70s, and this is really the best he can do? The only conclusion I am forced to draw is that he’s doing this on purpose. You absolute ass-monger. You commander on this sea of shit!

Then there’s another scene of the girl and her hip hop, beret-wearing, wine-sipping boyfriend, who apparently has nothing to do all day but sit in the exact same spot as he was the other scene. In fact, did he even move at all?

"My job includes sitting on the couch, drinking wine and watching Desperate Housewives. In fact I think my ass may be glued to this couch!"

They talk about how she met the reporter at the police station (who turns out to be the “fat fuck” guy the Zodiac taunts sometimes) who agreed to help her research the Zodiac. This sequence of events is never shown, just told here - yes, because seeing THAT scene which would have moved the plot forward would have been lame, but THIS scene, in which the boyfriend asks if the reporter is attractive, is TOTALLY useful! Because why have any likable characters at all? what, there’s another scene where some prostitute is arguing with her pimp and the Zodiac is narrating more garbage over-top about wanting to kill her in some sick way. The camera tilts around like the cameraman just tripped and fell over while filming and then they just decided to use that take, as they clearly did not care:

...and the whole scene is about as unpleasant on all fronts as humanly possible. It’s literally a fucking assault on your senses. The picture quality makes old 1970s no-budget horror movies look like a James Cameron blockbuster, the camerawork makes no sense, the dialogue between the prostitute and the pimp is just a bunch of screaming and shouting you can barely understand, and the Zodiac’s narrating over-top is a constant stream of misogynistic, hate-filled garbage that more denotes someone who should be euthanized rather than allowed to continue making films. It is so omnipresent in near every scene in this film and so lacking in anything resembling taste, that I just have to call it what it is - absolutely deplorable, disgusting filth.

Ugh. I really just can’t. The rest of the film is pretty much like this: the Zodiac preys upon some girl in horrible picture quality, muttering more bullshit about how he’s going to kill her, then he does it in some boring manner, then we get some scenes of the psychic-dream girl holding her head and crying, then we get a bunch of shaky cam scenes trying to look all artsy and demented. Rinse, repeat and hate yourself - that’s your movie. Was it good for you?

I'll translate to Lommel-ese, for the uninitiated: LOOK HOW ARTSY I AM! SMELL MY FARTS AND PRAISE ME AS A NEW GOD OF CINEMA!

There’s really only a few other things worthy of note - in the scenes where he’s stalking the girls and muttering, why can’t they hear him? I guess it's supposed to be his inner thoughts or whatever, but it's so poorly done you can't tell half the time, in the beginning anyway. If he’s really right there, it’s either A) he’s muttering so low nobody can hear him, which makes him a total weenie loser, or B) the white static noise in these girls' heads in place of cogent thoughts is so loud they can't hear anything else. Neither one would surprise me. The scenes where the main girl is seeing visions just make less and less sense as this thing goes on. Is the Zodiac psychic? Is he astral-projecting his murders into her brain? Why her, anyway? Why not any other person? What’s so special about her?

The answer to all of these questions is “Fuck you, I’m Ulli Lommel, I don’t have to make any goddamn sense.”

There are maybe two scenes of actual investigating, you know, that thing the girl and the reporter claimed to be doing, but they're not very long and nothing of importance is discovered in them. Instead we just get a scene where the reporter gives up on all that boring detective work and instead hooks up with a prostitute. He goes outside to have a smoke, then while he’s doing that, the Zodiac sneaks in through the air vents and kills the prostitute. Yes, I am dead serious about that, and yes, my soul died a little bit even writing it.

"Hey, I liked that window view; get out of there!"

The guy comes back in, sees her dead and doesn’t care. Like literally I’m not even exaggerating - he doesn’t show a reaction at all. I think that about sums it all up. I could reiterate what about this film is so awful, but frankly, I think this one speaks for itself.

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