Recommendation: 2/5 Stars, SKIP
Plot: “To win the contest of her dreams, Zoe will have to turn her sister's wedding into a horror film.” -IMDB
Review: Saturday night. North Hollywood, CA. A local independent movie theater. I sat alone in front of a screen. 150 red chairs surrounded me. Not another soul could be found. “Zilla and Zoe” began. I was treated to one of those rare moments in the life of a cinephile when you have a movie theatre all to yourself. As the opening scene began, I breathed a sigh of satisfaction. No, this indie film wasn’t going to make a lot of money, but as Zoe filmed gory scenes involving plastic dolls, I watched with the highest of expectations.
Zoe is the odd duck in the family or, so we are led to believe. She is young but very passionate about making horror films. Using discarded toys and her best friend, she constructs elaborate worlds using her imagination. Zilla is her older sister and is coming home from college with a big surprise; she is gay. She has met someone. She is getting married. Of course, all of this is a surprise to her single father. Through a few awkward scenes that hit a little too close to home, he accepts Zilla as she is and the family begins planning the most Portland of weddings.
The wedding gives Zoe an idea that could help her win a horror film competition. Using the nuptials as her stage, she sets her heart on making a movie. Mirroring the film production and indie spirit that serves as the basis of the entire film, we watch Zoe build an elaborate script. Yet, with every scene, we watch as Zoe pushes things too far taking chances that either put her in danger or in the way. At one point, it gets so bad that her father bans her from making a movie at all. Of course, this doesn’t stop Zoe. She prevails but at a great cost.
In the end, “Zilla and Zoe” is a really weird film with elements that can seem poorly stitched together. The saving grace for the film is its focus on a young girl enamored by horror films. This sort of creativity and ability to break gender rules should be celebrated. Unfortunately, this isn’t enough to keep this script afloat.
Be good to each other,
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