In 1969, a serial killer began terrorising San Francisco. Twenty five years and several dead leads later, the case is finally closed. Based on the book by Robert Graysmith. score

moviereview rates films from
1 (unwatchable) to 5 (unmissable)
Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jnr, Brian Cox, Chloë Sevigny

David Fincher

James Vanderbilt


Rating / Running Time
MA / 158 minutes

Australian Release
May 2007

Official Site

(c) moviereview 2006-2007
ABN 72 775 390 361

It’s 1969, the summer of love and a serial killer is loose on the streets of San Francisco. He writes letters to  newspapers, sends them coded ciphers and generally scares the bejesus out of California. The Zodiac has struck and will strike again, even though he generally gets what he asks for - curious requests like an on-air consultation with a TV psychiatrist. Years go by and periodically Zodiac returns, yet memories are short and the public soon forgets his terror. All except three men whose lives become permanently entwined in his: a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, a cartoonist who works on the paper, and a detective who was originally assigned to track him down. Twenty five years pass before the case is finally closed.

Aside from a couple of watch-out-behind-you moments, Zodiac is surprisingly tension-free. The director of Fight Club and Se7en has created a slasher film without the slash, a thriller without the thrills. Fincher seems more interested in character study yet provides very few access points for us to care about his subjects for very long, and at nearly three hours we need more sustenance than their high-GI verbal assault. Less about the hunted than it is about the hunter, Zodiac presents three cases of obsession. Each party dips in and out of the narrative to reveal a painstaking, methodical fixation capable of ruining lives. But as leads dissolve and hunches become herrings, it makes for a frustrating, exhausting experience: thirty minutes is spent on a lead that goes nowhere. Like a slow if significant day at work, Zodiac sorely needs a bit of Fincher’s old-time brutality to spice up the action.