A film by Michal Kosakowski

DVD REVIEW ‘ZERO KILLED’ @ Rock! Shock! Pop!

by Ian Jane | Rock! Shock! Pop!, Aug 1, 2013

The Movie:

If you could get away with murder, would you? Not manslaughter, but murder. The pre-meditated kind. Obviously a lot of people have tried, and hopefully more have failed than not, but for the most part, even at our most outraged we know it’s not ‘right’ to kill. But what happens when you eliminate the prospect of being punished for your crime?

Filmmaker Michal Kosakowski, in 1996, started asking people about their feelings on murder, starting a dialogue on the specifics of what they would do, how they would do it and why they would do it and then, once that relationship was established, offering them the chance to act that out. Note that the key word there is act. He was, in short, giving people the opportunity to indulge their murder fantasies, but this did not come without a catch – they had to be actively involved and play either the killer or the victim. So from here, Kosakowski rounds up his group of people and basically has them create their own fake snuff/horror movies. He chooses people from different backgrounds, all of whom seem reasonably stable, and he lets them do their thing.

We see these short films, or at least enough of them, and then roughly ten years later we travels with Kosakowski as he catches up with them and picks their brains about how they feel about the subject since making their respective movies. We learn how their lives have changed in the years since the films were made and through some discussion learn how their opinions and views on things have been altered not just from the experience of the part they played but by current and world events as well. Of course, nobody interviewed or involved in the project has gone any sort of killing spree but it’s interesting to hear some justify and some counter the reasons for killing.

Kosakowski pretty much stays off screen for all of this. Don’t expect Herzog style narration or Moore style on camera provocation. He lets the subjects explain things in their own words, and while it would seem obvious that questions are asked of them, he doesn’t appear to be baiting them or trying to get a specific answer out of them once it comes time to reflect. As such, there’s an honesty here that’s interesting. As the movie evolves, we wind up debating the pros and cons of capital punishment, killing in self-defense and killing to defend those we love. Government sanctioned torture and murder is brought up as is the use of the threat of death as a deterrent in society. As all of these thoughts and differing opinions emerge, the movie does get a little bit disjointed and chaotic, as if it’s trying to find its own voice and opinion, but that never stops it from being interesting both as a movie and as a social experiment of sorts. This does allow us to make up our own minds about the subject, however, and on that level the seemingly random assembly of the movie actually works in its favor. It’s an interesting movie, a mix of legitimate documentary style expose and horror movie nastiness but one that exposes what a lot of us already know – there are humans that want kill other humans, and sometimes they’re more normal and average and ‘safe’ in appearance than many of us realize. Does the movie expose a dark underbelly? No, most of us already know that dark underbelly exists, but the movie is nevertheless quite intriguing, particularly if you hold any sort of fascination with the dark side of human nature.

Video/Audio/Extras:

The movie was shot on digital video and arrives on DVD framed at 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen. Video quality is fine here, the image is clean and stable and while sometimes the shooting environment was maybe less than ideal, resulting in some shake here and there, overall the picture is just fine.

The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track on the disc is also fine. Dialogue is easy to follow, the levels are properly mixed and there are no issues with any hiss or distortion to note. This isn’t the type of movie that needs an enveloping surround sound mix and the stereo track here suits the content rather well, actually. The movie switches languages from English to German to Polish to Serbian and back again and English subtitles are provided.

The main extra on the disc is a making of featurettes that’s actually an interview with Kosakowski in which he talks for twenty-three minutes about how this project came to be, how video rental options affected him at a younger age, and how he was introduced to filmmaking when his dad bought a VHS camcorder. He then discusses how he came to be interested in this project, how he managed to ‘get people to expose themselves’ and more. From there we get interviews with some of the participants spliced in with clips of Kosakowski as well and they all elaborate on their experiences. Its’ an interesting piece and worth watching just to get some context for this odd picture. Aside from that, we also get a trailer for the feature, static menus and chapter selection.

The Final Word:

This is strong stuff, thought provoking and intelligent and at the same time, and if it’s rough around the edges in pacing and tone, it’s interesting enough to overcome the technical limitations. It’s a strange idea for a movie but also one ripe with possibility and it really makes you think about mortality, morality and the merits and repercussions of taking another person’s life. Cult Epics’ presentation of the movie is a good one, and the disc comes recommended.

Read the review on rockshockpop.com

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