In the late 1960s/early 1970s, a San Francisco cartoonist becomes an amateur detective obsessed with tracking down the Zodiac Killer, an unidentified individual who terrorizes Northern California with a killing spree.
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A serial killer in the San Francisco Bay Area taunts police with his letters and cryptic messages. We follow the investigators and reporters in this lightly fictionalized account of the true 1970's case as they search for the murderer, becoming obsessed with the case. Based on Robert Graysmith's book, the movie's focus is the lives and careers of the detectives and newspaper people. Written by
Usually when a film gets made about a media grabbing unsolved crime, the resulting movie tends to be overtly sensational and at best remotely connected to what really happened. Considering that director David Fincher's last film about a serial killer was the gripping but deeply disturbing Se7en, his take on the Zodiac killer almost seemed primed to be an extreme, nail-biting thriller.
Instead what he's given us is a well argued thesis on the possible identity of the Zodiac. While there are some very intense scenes, Fincher takes a somewhat unexpected approach on the subject. All of the killings take place pretty early on in the movie, with the bulk of the story centering on the actual investigation into the killer by both the cops and a cartoonist who becomes obsessed with the case. In fact, the depictions of the murders are done in a manner that is fairly reverent towards the victims while still conveying the cruelty of them.
Some people may find themselves disappointed by this two and a half hour epic if they go in expecting the usual serial killer fare. But it's a must see for any fan of Fincher's work, or anybody who likes a good detective story.
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