Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

‘Zodiac’ at Amherst Cinema: a thrill of a time

A look into the screening of David Fincher’s well crafted thriller
Courtesy of the official “Zodiac” IMDb page

Amherst Cinema screened two showings of David Fincher’s 2007 mystery thriller “Zodiac” at its theater.

“Zodiac” is based on the true story of the serial killer that tormented Northern California in the 1970s. The film tells the story of how a cartoonist, a reporter and an investigator became enthralled with the search for the  “Zodiac Killer.”

The film opens in 1969, where a man and a woman were attacked by an unknown man in Vallejo, California. After the first murder, the San Francisco Chronicle receives a letter from the killer himself. This letter contains a code and cipher, the self-proclaimed “Zodiac” says to publish on the front page of the paper or he will continue his killing spree. Cartoonist Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) and journalist Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.) then work together to try to uncover the identity of this man.

The Zodiac keeps sending letters to the Chronicle, including more ciphers and pieces of bloody clothing from the people he has killed. This leads investigator David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) and his partner to be assigned to the case.

As the film unfolds, there isno progress in identifying the suspect. Toschi and his partners question Arthur Leigh Allen, who is a suspect in the case from Vallejo. All the leads the investigators get end up going nowhere. Graysmith continues to research the case and becomes obsessed with it, to the point where he decides to write a book. All circumstantial evidence seems to lead to Allen, but Graysmith cannot prove it.

Ultimately, the case ends up not being solved as the one main subject Allen, died before being questioned again by police. The case is still open today.

The score, writing and performances by the entire cast make the film so perfect. The music adds suspense and the mix of three keeps the audience anxious and on the edge of their seats. Even if they have seen it before, viewers are left startled by the actions portrayed in the film.

“Zodiac” has always been a movie that I wanted to see in theaters since I watched it for the first time. When I saw that there was an opportunity to see it at Amherst Cinema, I knew I had to attend.

Amherst Cinema is a small theater located in downtown Amherst. It focuses on playing independent filmsbut also screen current and classic films, as well as performances. Amherst Cinema lively place with people of all ages entering their doors. It’s small size makes it so special. There is a strong welcoming atmosphere, the perfect place for cinephiles.

When the lights dimmed and the suspenseful beginning started, I couldn’t contain my excitement. A thriller like “Zodiac” should be enjoyed with surround sound and projected on a large screen. I laughed, got scared and enjoyed everything the showing had to offer.

The film has a run time of 157 minutes, making it a longer movie. Despite the late ending and the slightly creepy walk back to my car, it was an experience like no other. There is always something special about going to the movies. The feeling of being solely focused on a piece of art with no distractions and being immersed into it is like no other.

Amherst Cinema is operating at full capacity and masks are optional, but appreciated. In addition to events like rescreenings of “Zodiac” they offer “Masked Mornings” for attendees that are cautious about COVID-19. Other events they hold are five dollar family films, late night showings and theatre performances.

Throughout the viewing experience, I was able to enjoy everything that both the film and theater had to offer. At the end of the night, I was full of joy as I got to see a movie on screen 16 years after its release as well as support a local business.

Sydney Warren can be reached at [email protected].

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