Awakening the Zodiac is a 2017 Canadian film about the Zodiac Killer.
4 out of 10 stars. It had premise, but failed with an error-ridden and offensive script.
A couple in their 40s living in a trailer park buy the contents of a storage unit that’s defaulted on its payments, hoping to get rich. Inside that unit their partner Harv finds snuff films made by the Zodiac Killer in the 50s and 60s. Some of these films are victims never attributed to the Zodiac Killer. On the San Francisco Police Department’s website, they find $100,000 reward for any information leading to the Zodiac Killer.
They go to ask Tina, the manager of the storage unit facility, who rented that locker, but she’s already been killed by the Zodiac. Not knowing this, they break into Tina’s office and get the name and address of Betty Ferguson. As they are leaving, they see the figure of a man leaving. It’s the Zodiac.
The next day they go with Harv to Betty’s house and when no one answers, they break in. They believe if they solve the Zodiac Killer’s identity they’ll get the $100,000 reward money. Honestly, if they solve that they’re getting a book deal and a lot more money than that, but if they were smart they’d give the San Francisco Police the tapes and not put their lives in danger. That’s sufficient to earn the reward.
Inside a dresser, they find another film and are caught leaving by the caretaker who has a gun, Betty’s son Benjamin. He takes the film and gives them his business card. He’s the editor of the local paper.
They go back to Harv’s pawn shop and watch another film. After killing a couple, the Zodiac films inside his home and there on the table is the key to his ciphers. While Harv tries reading and recording the cipher key, Zoe goes to the newspaper archives with a badge she stole from an employee and instead of bringing the one tape that Mick and Zoe have to Harv’s safe, Mick hides it in their trailer.
At this point, they’ve committed at least three crimes: 1. Breaking into Tina’s office. 2. Breaking into Betty Ferguson’s home. 3. Breaking into the newspaper archives using a stolen employee badge. And some guy is following them in his car. They lead him straight to their trailer. :0
What Zoe learns at the newspaper archives (and state records) is that Benjamin served in the Vietnam War in the 60s. Then he worked as a news reporter in San Francisco until he returned home to work at the local paper. Zoe thinks maybe he was hunting the Zodiac.
Harv is still working on the cipher the next day. So Zoe and Mick go to get him food. As they drive by the storage facility the police are there. They assume Tina reported the breakin. When they return, Harv is gone. They assume he’s trying to get the reward alone. Something from the ceiling drops on Mick so he goes upstairs to investigate. Meanwhile, Zoe sees Harv’s van leave and hops in their pickup to chase him down. Mick finds Harv’s dead mutilated body upstairs. He was tortured to death. Then he steals a car and chases after Zoe. After he loses her, he goes to the Fergusons and finds Benjamin’s dead body in his car. He finally calls the police.
Meanwhile the Zodiac Killer has Zoe and calls Mick with Zoe’s phone. He puts Zoe in a barn slaughter pen that leads down a chute then waits for Mick and shoots him, not knowing that Mick is wearing a bulletproof vest. Zoe escapes while the Zodiac Killer is shooting Mick then finds MIck. Together they eventually kill the Zodiac Killer, but the police can’t positively identify him. They can’t even figure out the guy’s real name. So no reward (which makes no sense).
The next evening, there’s a noise outside their trailer and Mick goes to investigate against Zoe’s wishes. We see the real Zodiac Killer filming as he kills Mick then Zoe.
4 out of 10 stars. Look at that plot. It’s actually an excellent plot. But there were so many factual inaccuracies in this film. The Zodiac Killer killed across the entire San Francisco Bay Area, not just San Francisco. He didn’t torture or mutilate. He always shot his victims, sometimes multiple times. He was described as a large man by the one victim who escaped and the killer in this film is a super tiny man. He was uneducated and not particularly smart. And you can’t possibly find all that information about someone at a newspaper archives. The list goes on. The film was also very offensive in places. Like when Harv repeatedly rants about how brilliant the Zodiac was. He wasn’t. Incompetent police and multiple jurisdictions hindered the capture of the Zodiac, not any intelligence on his part.