This is the Zodiac speaking…

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…Well not quite but I did finally get round to seeing Zodiac (2007) last night at the Stratford-upon-Avon Picturehouse. It seemed to take forever for this film to finally come out. I remember it being announced over two years ago and have eagerly awaited seeing David Fincher’s latest offering. As always, there have been mixed reviews on the web but for me this is Fincher’s best film since Se7en (1995), a film I regard as a modern masterpiece and is easily in my top five films of all time. It would seem that a lot of Fincher fans expected this to be another serial killer film that would be a near carbon copy of Se7en. For those expecting this they will be most disappointed as Zodiac is completely different.

I thought the casting was excellent apart from Jake Gyllenhaal who seems to be a little out of place as Zodiac author Robert Graysmith. It is quite amusing how he does not age over the course of the film apart from an increase in stubble. For those who are unaware of the actual Zodiac case I hope that they do not come out of the film thinking they have seen is the conclusive truth. The film is an adaptation of Robert Graysmith’s book Zodiac, which is a biased representation of the true events. Graysmith strongly believes that Arthur Leigh Allen is the Zodiac killer despite the lack of definitive evidence. Yes, there are some startling coincidences between the Zodiac and Allen but I am sure that these are nothing more than coincidences. Despite this, the book is actually a good read but like most accounts of historical events they can only be taken on face value. For a detailed breakdown of the factual errors of Fincher’s film see this website.

Still, Zodiac is a great movie experience and the long running time went far too quickly for my liking. There are also a number of genuinely tense moments especially when Graysmith meets Bob Vaughn and is taken to his basement. Even a hardened horror buff like myself found this scene to be quite unnerving! On the drive home we were constantly looking in the rear-view mirrors to check if the car behind was following us. Sad isn’t it? Zodiac lived up to my expectations and will be a definite purchase when released on HD-DVD in late July. Hopefully the disc will contain some documentaries on the actual Zodiac case.

For those who are interested in the Zodiac case and fancy having a try at cracking the Zodiac’s last few ciphers go to the Zodiac Killer website. Coincidentally, and I trust that this has nothing to do with gaining publicity for the release of Fincher’s film, a Zodiac letter from 1990 has recently been identified. Though it’s authenticity is open to debate it appears to have the same handwriting as the other letters and includes a photocopy of two keys. Tom Voight, webmaster of the Zodiac Killer website, has used the numbers on the keys and the post location of the letter to do some amateur detective work and has found a new possible suspect who he refers to as “Sam”. He believes that this new witness has even more coincidental links to the Zodiac than Allen and is a possible suspect. It will be interesting to see how this develops but this case seems destined to follow the similar path of the Jack the Ripper murders and remain unsolved.

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