Horror-Scope: AWAKENING THE ZODIAC (2017) Review

A couple that is hurting for money and barely getting by become the owner’s of some old film reels. These films just so happen to be the recorded murders by the Zodiac killer. The couple learns that there is a huge reward for anyone who can provide evidence to the killer’s identity. Seeing this as their big break they decide to turn it over, that is until they start watching more of the films they decide to do some of their own investigations to find out who the Zodiac is. But the further they investigate, the more in danger they find themselves as the Zodiac killer begins to target them.

The plot of Awakening the Zodiac sounds like a good one, and it is a good one. However, while the plot is good, there just isn’t any substance to it. Unlike David Fincher’s film Zodiac, which was totally atmospheric, and often times pretty damn scary, this one has none of that. This movie would have been much better off had the killer been more menacing and tormented this couple more, which he barely did at all. The whole movie is the couple and the shop owner who gave them the reels doing their investigations (and they’re exactly as you can imagine). Needless to say the movie is pretty boring. We have maybe one creepy moment with the Zodiac and in all honesty it’s not even that creepy. There are only two kills, which are not only lame in how basic they are and not like the Zodiac at all, but the scenes themselves aren’t chilling or engaging. And worst of all in the final act we see the killer unmasked and going on your basic killer tangent with the victim(s). This only made him even more un-scary. And don’t get me started on the horribly tacked on and clichéd final five minutes.

On a positive note however, the movie is really well filmed. The couple at the center of all this is likable enough, but they’re so bland and boring, as are the performances of Shane West and Leslie Bibb who play the couple. Now, I’m not saying West and Bibb are bad but their performances just weren’t that engaging. It’s unfortunate that for such a promising concept, it really doesn’t go into as dark or suspenseful territory as it should have. Hell, it even makes a mockery of the Zodiac killer by making him come off as so unthreatening and the kind of killer you’d see on Law & Order or some Lifetime drama. There’s no real sense of danger here. It’s just all boring investigation and drama with even more boring final act, featuring boring characters.

–Cody Landman