Thursday, April 14, 2011

"Year Zero" and Visual Realism : A Movie Review

*Full disclosure: an online screener of this film was provided by Richard Cunningham.

Director/writer: Richard Cunningham III.

"Year Zero" is a zombie or infection themed short, from artist and actor Richard Cunningham (Lycian). The film is set in the "five boroughs" (Year) of New York, where an infection has quarantined one man into his apartment for over thirty-one days; his groaning and blood-thirsty roommate is also trapped in the apartment. To show at the Tribeca Film Festival April 24th, the film element that stands out the most in this film is the beautiful visual form of the short.

"Year Zero," is shot with a camera, to enhance a 3-D effect and the short looks much like a well-drawn graphic novel. The possibilities of this format are utilized by Cunningham to show panic and hunger settling into the main character, only known as the loner (Pat Rigby). The black and white settings, mixed with splashes of colour, make the film stunning across the visual sphere.

Another visual element that stood out to this reviewer was the use of a titling camera, which heightened the action by zooming in and zooming out the lens during action sequences. The visual display is constantly interesting as the loner survives on cockroaches, sticks of gum and anything else he can find. Meanwhile, neighbours turn into the infected, as the camera slows down and speeds up at various angles. The result is hypnotic and mesmerizing.

Finally, the black and white backgrounds put the visual focus on the characters. There is colour splashed in some of the sets, but much of Cunningham's attention is spent on the protagonist, or those after his flesh. The final climactic battle between the loner and the other tenants sprays blood across the screen in believable 3-D fashion. The finale ends tragically, yet the visual sphere never disappoints.

Watch this film if you are on the eastcoast at the end of April, as "Year Zero" will have many eventful showing, throughout April and May. Tribeca will host this film's World Premiere and horror fans will enjoy the narrative tale of a lone man up against the zombie hordes. The breathtaking screens will help you feel part of the action, as you forget reality and find yourself in peril amongst a rampaging infection.

Setting/descriptions/narration: 8 (the first person narrative allows you see through the eyes of the central character).
Characters/complexity: 7 (the main character is well drawn, while the roommate creates tension, not enough time for an in-depth antagonist unfortunately).
Unifying theme/conclusion/continuity: 7.75 (all here, but the film's message is lacking).

Overall: 7.5 out of 10 (see it!).

"Year Zero's" official website is here:

Year Zero Official Website

"Year Zero' on Facebook:

Year Zero's Fan Page

"Year Zero" at Tribeca, with showing info':

Year Zero at Tribeca

Richard Cunningham III is also a gifted actor, who has starred in:

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