Sunday, August 5, 2012

Zero Day Review

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The Columbine Massacre was one of the worst American tragedies ever committed. Even though only 13 people died (15 counting the shooters) it is the fourth deadliest school massacre and was one of the most atrocious acts of violence in America until 9/11. Many movies have been made about the massacre, most notably being Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine and Gus Van Zant's Elephant. But indie film maker Ben Coccio makes what might be the most honest and direct film about the horrible tragedy.

Coccio started writing the script after the massacre happened and the movie was filmed in early 2001 using little to no crew and handheld camera work. Coccio withheld its release after the 9/11 attacks to avoid causing distress, it was then edited more and released in 2003.

Watching the movie is honestly not the most enjoyable experience, its slow paced, mostly focusing on what the two main characters Cal and Andre did leading up to the attack, showing how they planned on getting the guns and how they made pipe bombs. It wasn't really until after the movie was over did I realize how much I liked it. While yes, it is slow paced, it works in establishing the characters and their "motives". The weird thing about this movie is that Cal and Andre don't really seem to have that big of problems, yeah in the opening credits we see Andre getting bullied, but we don't see them get bullied at all during the rest of the movie. They're not very popular, that much is clear, but probably due to their anti-social behavior and violent thinking. Together they make a team they call the Army of Two...which yeah...a little gay. And that's not just me being stupid the whole movie is sort of full of like maybe they were gay type things. But it isn't like Van Zant's Elephant where they make out in the shower. It just sort of hints at it.

The movie doesn't in any way defend the perpetrators of the massacre, instead presenting them as people to the audience and letting the audience decide. And at first, they really don't seem like bad people...for about 5 minutes. Then when it becomes clear what they mean to do its a long road down violent, almost insane planning and actions. Shot from handheld cameras by the two lead actors, Andre Keuck and Cal Robertson, the two characters make video diaries and put them in a safety deposit box in Andre's name to be found after the massacre, which they dub "Zero Day".

The movie shows in meticulous detail the planning that the two characters put into the event. There's a scene in the film that is around 5 minutes long and is a detailed account on how to make pipe bombs, which they never actually use, and which the actual perpetrators of the Massacre used, though they didn't go off as planned. They are shown how they obtain the guns used, Andre's Dad's gun closet and they steal some from Andre's cousin.

The two lead actors are honestly not that good. But in the context of the film it works pretty well. They seem shy and almost hesitant about being on camera, which works with the shooting style of handheld cameras and they deliver their lines almost stilted, because they are aware they're on camera and are shy about it. And while it wouldn't really work anywhere else it works here.

The final 15 minutes or so is really the best part. It details the shooting, filmed by security cameras in the school, and show Cal and Andre shooting people. Its extremely effective in the way it is shot and the dialogue and sounds you hear. Its the best part of the movie in the fact that you now realize just what people are capable of. You are with Cal and Andre through the entire movie, and through the entire movie I always kind of had this thought in the back of my head like, no they won't do it. They just don't seem capable of it, they talk about it alot, but they just seem like the kind of people that would talk about it and then back out when the time actually came. But actually watching it unfold on front of you on the screen, in its entirety, is something else all together.

All and all I like this movie. Its an extremely independent movie, if that makes sense, but it works in what the film is trying to do. Is it a great film? No, not technically, it is very slow paced and the acting isn't that great, but if you're anything like me it'll leave an impact. Its really a movie that is to be though about after you watch it. Its not a great movie, and not the most enjoyable to watch, but it works as a surprisingly accurate and respectful portrayal of the Columbine Massacre. It debunks the idea that the killers worked off of ideas from movies or video games instead saying it was their idea. They seem to want to protect their families, continuously saying on camera that they had nothing to do with it and it wasn't their fault. The whole movie is kind of uncomfortable to watch, especially the last 15 minutes which is genuinely disturbing and unsettling and it actually does seem like what might of been going through Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold's minds. Maybe not a great movie to watch for just a casual film watcher, but if your a film nerd you might wanna check it out.

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