Written & Directed by: Vladan Nikolic
Full credits at IMDb
This narrated-to-death dystopian sci-fi takes place in 2044, when genetically engineered happiness has turned into numbness, and people pay a premium just to feel pain. But it also frequently flashes back to prelapsarian times, in which a New World Order conspiracy is rantingly outlined on video cassette--rather, on a series of tapes hunted down like horcruxes. Zenith's most major problem among its many problems is its tiring triteness: it boasts familiar visions of a dystopian future interlaced with familiar glimpses of a grand conspiracy past.
How familiar? I immediately thought of Jared Loughner (even though he was still an anonymous schizophrenic when Zenith wrapped shooting), from the film's thesis about language as a means of control--the names of emotions have largely disappeared, though our hero magically remembers them, as though some sort of "chosen one"--to its ultimate assertion that conspiracy theories are the purview of the mentally deranged, and can be explained easily: rich people just like doing weird, gross things. (Including incest, which the movie, like Splice, suggests results from playing God through bioengineering.) Perhaps the sole virtue is the way Nikolic, with cinematographer Vladimir Subotic, use unaltered outerborough locations as settings for the crumbling world of the failed future. In at least that one aspect, the director finally transforms the familiar into something that's not. Grade: C-
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