Z Movie Review
Written by John Colianni
Released by RLJE Films
Directed by Brandon Christensen
Written Brandon Christensen and Collin Minihan
2020, XX minutes, Not Rated
Released on September 1st, 2020
Keegan Connor Tracy as Elizabeth Parsons
Jett Klyne as Joshua Parsons
Sean Rogerson as Kevin Parsons
Sara Canning as Jenna Montgomery
Everyone can remember the different phases of childhood they went through. There’s the rebellious phase where you tell your parents to suck it and lash out by wearing ridiculous clothing or worshiping the devil. Then there’s that time someone convinced you that being a being a quasi-functioning member of society wasn’t really being a sellout, regardless what your favorite punk band told you. But even further back, before you met your best friend or when mom and dad forced you on play dates, imaginary friends materialized.
Full disclosure: I am not a parent. Kids freak me out. Adding the idea that kids have friends that live solely in their minds and have convinced themselves that these friends are real is equally freaky to me, but I digress. Their imaginations are free to create any sort of friend that they want. The parent has no control over how much time they spend with them. They can be as benevolent or malevolent as the child wants. What if it’s not all a matter of imagination? What if something else is at play? This is exactly the premise of Brandon Christensen’s Z.
Joshua is an eight-year-old boy with a vivid imagination. When he starts talking and interacting with his imaginary friend, he calls Z, his parents Beth and Kevin think nothing of it. Z accompanies Joshua to dinner, and they play together around the house. Quickly events take a turn for the worse as Joshua begins lashing out at school and is expelled. With more time to see how he is interacting with Z, Beth and Kevin seek help of a child psychologist. All is well for a time before more violent events take place and Beth starts to think Z might not be make-believe after all. It turns out that Beth is right.
Z starts out as ominous as you can imagine. A loving family with everything going seemingly well. The moment you add the socially removed child character to any horror movie, I will watch the shit out of it. The elements of a supernatural horror movie are always enhanced when combine them with the picturesque family. The transitional periods of happiness and despair feel that much more impactful in Z because of this. Joshua (Jett Klyne) does a fantastic job portraying the socially removed child who has befriended some sort of evil. Beth (Keegan Connor Tracy) and Kevin (Sean Rogerson) play convincing parents who only want what is best for their troubled kid. There are some added tropes that accompany Z, such as the psychologist, Dr. Seager (Stephen McHattie), who seems to know more than he is letting on and enough added jump scares to get your fill. The film’s twist falls heavily on the predictability scale as well and the last third of the film seems a bit rushed.
Do I think the writing and directing in Z is a game changer for the genre? No, but it checks so many of the boxes that horror lovers crave. For those who loved films such as The Babadook and Sinister will appreciate this addition to the genre. What I do wish was more flushed out was Z itself, but maybe there will be a sequel in the future exploring the origins. Until then, every child who comes near me with a friend I can’t see is getting punted away.
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