Film review: Zero Day

Published: Thursday, Jan. 8 2004 3:21 p.m. MST

Andre Keuck, left, and Calvin Robertson

Avatar Films

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It is interesting to see how "Zero Day" tackles some of the same material and issues as Michael Moore's Oscar-winning documentary "Bowling for Columbine" and Gus Van Sant's acclaimed "Elephant," yet it comes from a completely different perspective.

The fact that the film was written, directed, edited and photographed by one person — newcomer Ben Coccio — certainly makes it noteworthy.

Yet the film has been ridiculously overpraised as being something it's not, which is original. If anything, the film has far too much in common with "The Blair Witch Project" for comfort.

If that wasn't enough, the film seems to lose its way about midway through. While that may serve a certain dramatic purpose — it indicates some uncertainty on the part of its characters — it also makes the entire thing grind to a halt. (That the film at times almost seems like a "how-to" leaves a bad taste in your mouth.)

"Zero Day" purports to be a video diary of Calvin Gabriel (Calvin Robertson) and Andre Kriegman (Andre Keuck), two embittered teens who begin a year-long "campaign of terror" against their fellow high school students.

Andre is the brains of the operation and has been coming up with the equipment (such as weapons and explosives) they need to put their plan into effect. For the most part, Calvin has been keeping quiet. He has been videotaping their planning meetings, which they want to send to the media when all is said and done.

As this self-described "army of two" begins its countdown to Zero Day, their pranks get more malicious and considerably more deadly. And it appears they may actually go through with the final phase of their "campaign."

At times, the odd rhythm of the pacing makes the film a bit hard to watch. And its similar ending to "Elephant" doesn't have nearly the impact. (To be fair, though, that movie was made by a considerably more accomplished director.)

The film's strongest asset may be the performances by the two leads. In particular, the transformation of Robertson's at-first-mild-mannered character is more than just a bit chilling.

"Zero Day" is not rated but would probably receive an R for occasional use of strong sexual profanity, scenes of gun violence (target practice, as well as shootings), crude humor and references (including flatulence) and brief gore. Running time: 92 minutes.


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