The story follows a down-on-their-luck couple that discovers a serial killer’s film reels. They decide to take the law into their own hands, risking everything for a chance at a $100,000 reward. It isn’t long until they find themselves in the killer’s lethal cross-hairs.
Awakening The Zodiac is not a bad film. In fact, it’s well written and acted, boasts lovely cinematography and composition, and generates a steady build of suspense.
The only catch is that if the viewer knows anything about the history of the real Zodiac Killer, the premise itself is impossible to comprehend, believe, or get over at all.
Mick (Shane West) and Zoe (Leslie Bibb) Branson are a married couple living in a trailer in the south; they’re young, dumb, and out of options to make a living for themselves. When their oddity-collecting friend Harvey (Matt Craven) shows them found footage of a murder that seems to have been recorded by the infamous Zodiac Killer, Mick and Zoe take it upon themselves to track him down for good for a meager reward of $100,000. (Since they decide to share it with Harvey, they’d only get $50,000, but hey, what’s the worst that could happen when hunting down the Zodiac Killer?) Their search unravels into a DaVinci Code-type caper, where they ultimately land in the killer’s line of fire and literally risk their lives for $50,000.
The majority of horror films ask the audience to suspend their disbelief, which is completely understandable. Awakening The Zodiac does create an interesting kind of “what if?” scenario where an average couple is forced to reckon with a historical figure that struck fear into the hearts of Bay Area citizens during the late 1960’s. But there’s the operative fact: not only did the Zodiac Killer commit murders during the 1960’s, but he was estimated to have been between 40 and 50 years old at the time.
Unfortunately, with the evidence lying in the couple’s Android phones, Awakening The Zodiac takes place in 2017. Suspending your disbelief doesn’t always work when historical facts are straight up wrong or make no sense. Not such a groovy premise.
The Zodiac Killer is legendary. This film may have been more effective as a horror film if either A. it took place at the time the Zodiac Killer was active, or B. if a more current serial killer had been used in his place. You know, someone who’d actually be alive.
I commend the filmmakers and the actors for a tangible film well done. Awakening The Zodiac was solid for being totally implausible.
Theatrical Release Date: June 9, 2017