Zigzag (1998)

Own it!

review by Scott Hamilton and Chris Holland
See also:



I Spit on Your Grave


Lava Lamp

Our rating: one LAVA® motion lamp.

"We've come a long way, baby."
Two "rustic" types named Jacob and Sierra have kidnapped Maria, the governor's daughter.

That about sums up Zigzag, and unpleasant and pointless "thriller." If there was supposed be a point, we missed it. Perhaps the fact that the two main characters have biblical names was supposed to be significant, but the opportunities for symbolism were lost in the repulsive script. And what is "zigzag" supposed to mean, anyway? There are no plot twists to speak of, so there's very little zigging and no zagging at all. The original title of the movie was "Mudslide," which at least brings to mind being buried by a wave of crap, which is a pretty fair description of the experience of sitting through this travesty.

After Jake and Sierra have kidnapped Maria they handcuff her to a bed in Sierra's out-of-the-way cabin. A small kink has apparently been thrown into their plan by the fact that the governor actually witnessed the kidnapping, and gave chase in his car. The governor had a car wreck, and is now in a coma.

Step right up and choose your phallic symbol!
Actually, Jake and Sierra seem to have different ideas as to what the object of the kidnapping is. Sierra wants the money, but Jacob wants to humiliate the governor and force him to confess to some past crime. Perhaps this is the kind of detail they should have worked out before they went ahead with the kidnapping? Why Jacob wants to humiliate and destroy the governor this is the film's "big secret," which we had figured out about 20 minutes in.

As we wait for the governor to wake up and hopefully propel the story forward, we have to suffer through dialogue like, "The yellow brick road is about to be torn up, and you're going to have to learn to crawl, just like the rest of us." Oh, and we also get treated to some semi-graphic sex scenes which show us that Jacob is impotent. Oh joy!

It is at this point that we bow down before the future filmmakers of America and beg them to think about why people should want to watch their films. Maybe we're getting to be crusty old critics, but we actually expect entertainment from the movies we watch. Good acting, people being set on fire, trains crashing into houses, plummeting airplanes, musical numbers, observations about the nature of humanity -- these are all good starts. If all your script has to offer is hackneyed dialogue, characters with inexplicable death wishes, and incest, it's time to reconsider slapping that film magazine into the camera.

Zigzag is brought to us mostly by Dan Reed, pop music band leader and erstwhile actor/filmmaker. Reed's motivation seems to be the emulation of Atom Egoyan. Egoyan, who bored us to tears with Exotica (but did substantially better with The Sweet Hereafter), loves complicated relationships, soft cinematography, wistful music, and emotional revelations. Reed, in his capacity as writer and producer, apes the cinematography and music, but mistakes confusing relationships for complicated ones and forgets that emotional revelations need to make sense. This guy isn't Atom Egoyan, he's Atom Bomb. Reed only makes things worse by taking on the lead acting duties as Jacob -- if sullen and irritating is what he was going for, then that Acting for Dummies book really paid off.

Don't be fooled by the erotic thriller-esque cover art: Zigzag's box writes checks that the movie definitely can't cash, no matter how big the ransom is.

Review date: 09/26/2000

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