REVIEW ‘ZERO KILLED’ @ I-FLICKS
by Ivan Radford | I-Flicks, Sept 30, 2012
I’m gonna kill him! How many times have you said that? What if you went one step further and actually thought about how you’d do it? That’s what director Michal Kosakowski asked people all around the world – on the condition that if they were going to share their murder fantasy, they had to act it out in front of the camera.
The result is a halfway house between social study and snuff movies – a disturbing look at the dark side of human nature. Sound unpleasant? It is. Kosakowski spent 10 years on the project (presumably the Midsomer Murders DVD box set had sold out), getting subjects to reflect on what they did several years down the line.
“The memory is still so fresh…” says one, before we see his short film. It’ll probably stay fresh for some time – even for those in the audience. Each murder is unsettlingly believable, shot with a gritty feel, cutting away as a bell rings to mark the kill. But for all its grimy realism, the bright, sterile vox pops are what really get under the skin.
Some laugh about what they did. Others are less serious. “I’ve always wanted to know what it would be like to push someone into a volcano,” jokes one guy, drily. Meanwhile, almost all of them, it turns out, would gladly kill if it meant revenge for a loved one.
“I believe it has a lot to do with self-esteem,” suggests one woman. “If you respect yourself, how can you not value someone else?”
She’s backed up by the inclusion of a young man’s fake suicide – a quiet moment that’s probably the most harrowing thing in the whole film.
The choral music that plays over the top of the documentary tips it into borderline sanctimonious territory, but Kosakowski keeps our attention in the final third by expanding out to discuss wider issues. The death penalty, for example. One farmer even talks about putting down the sheep in his flock.
“People afraid of the inner abyss refuse to see it,” comments one, a sentiment shared by many of the participants. They’re right. Does that make them more or less adjusted than us in the audience?
The usual debate of violence in the media pops its head up, but another question is more interesting in this post-9/11 world: would you kill someone if it meant saving millions of other lives? Are the people arguing yes right to say so? Are they just using moral arguments as an excuse to act out their own fantasy of murder and (in some cases) torture? And why on earth are we still watching?
“Humans can get used to anything,” offers a participant. Watching Zero Killed is an exception. And that’s precisely what makes it so horrible – and so morbidly intriguing. Still, it’s hard to recommend as something for people to actually watch.