This frightening look at how a random killer paralyzes a whole community with terror is even more chilling when you're aware that it's all true--and the culprit has never been caught.
In 1968, two teens are murdered in their car in a small Northern California town just before the holidays, and investigator Matt Parish (Justin Chambers) sets out to solve the crime. His teen son (Rory Culkin) and wife (Robin Tunney) get caught up in the frenzy of the unsolved murders when two more occur six months later, and a reporter (William Mapother) gets a letter from the killer. The murderous mind sends puzzles and threats, including one that says he plans to pick off a busload of schoolchildren. The police seem hot on the trail of a suspect as the killings get more brazen, but the suspect Parish sets his sites on proves to be a false lead. The last communication with the Zodiac Killer is ''Who will make a movie of me?''
Tunney is a superb actress from small indie films who transforms herself from a calm person into someone increasingly more panic-stricken. Chambers is a handsome and awkward officer who can adequately handle the smoldering befuddlement of his character and still remain sympathetic. The rest of the cast consists of obscure relatives of the stars: Mapother is Tom Cruise's cousin; Rory is Macaulay's brother and Eliza Dushku's brother Nate plays a supporting role.
Although lots of movies have invoked the horrors caused by the Zodiac Killer--even Clint Eastwood went after him in Dirty Harry--this is the first time a film has taken a look at the investigation and the people searching for clues. The Zodiac aptly shows the way panic gripped the community. First-time director Alexander Bulkley captures that fear of the unknown terrorist in a grand but subtle way. If you talked to anyone living in the San Francisco area during that time, they'll tell you about it, especially the teenagers who had to duck when their school bus crossed bridges in case the sniper decided to open fire. Unfortunately, this Zodiac film will probably be overshadowed by the upcoming David Fincher film Zodiac, starring Jake Gyllenhaal as the reporter. But you should still make an effort to see this one first.
Hollywood.com rated this film 3 stars.