I Am ZoZo DVD Review
Written by Michel Sabourin
DVD released by Image Entertainment
Written and directed by Scott Di Lalla
2012, Region 1 (NTSC), 89 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on November 19th, 2013
Kelly McLaren as Tess
Courtney Foxworthy as Mel
Demetrius Sager as Aiden
Going into I Am ZoZo, I expected to experience certain chills and trepidation. I love ghost stories and mixed with the occult, even better. In this story, five young friends go to a remote cabin on Halloween and decide to try to contact the spirit world through a Ouija board and make contact with a dark spirit known as ZoZo. In the mythology of Ouija, ZoZo is a widely documented demon that some have claimed to contact and thereafter bad things happen to them, including possession and mysterious deaths. Now, Ouija boards are something I don't really believe in, but I won't have one in my home. I don't think anything that purports itself to be a gateway to spirits and/or the unknown is something that should be played with. Again, not because I'm a believer, but because why take a chance?
That's exactly how I feel about this movie. It's probably innocuous and harmless, but there's also a very real danger that it could bore you to death. There's nothing worse than a horror movie in which NOTHING HAPPENS. Like, at all. The supposed terrifying events amount to (SPOILER ALERT) a girl dying from a fatal asthma attack, and that's with about 15 minutes left in the movie. Is this the work of the mysterious ZoZo or just an idiot who decided to get extra drunk with a breathing disorder? That's it. That's the level of terror you will experience here. It's so dull, there's an extra-long sequence showing a character fileting a fish and preparing the meal FOR NO DAMN REASON. It takes a lot to make me say this, and, really, this is the most damning thing I can say… This movie makes Witchboard look like Citizen Kane in comparison.
It features flat, caricatured characters carbon copied out of a dozen Z movies. The level of terrorized acting never rises above soft whimper. It's just dull and pointless. The plot (such as it is) is contrived to the point of ridiculousness. The events within are supposedly based on real life occurrences, but if this is the best story you have to tell at the campfire, everyone's going to laugh in your face. I've been more scared on a bathroom run with an incontinent toddler at a gas station (true story). My one-word review would read "Bullshit".
There's an interview with a guy who's somewhat an expert in ZoZo related mythology (who makes a cameo as himself in this movie) on the special features that is a much more compelling story, and probably has a Final Destination-like movie hidden in its precautionary tale. THAT would be so much better and would have wasted less of my time.
Video and Audio:
The film was shot on 8mm film stock and is presented in 1.78:1 ratio. It gives the movie a grainy '70s look that makes it feel more like a homemade movie or cheap video rental from my childhood (except there's no loving nostalgia here). This would be a brilliant touch if it didn't feel like such a waste of film and bordered so heavily on pretentiousness.
The 5.1 Surround Sound is fine. The dialog is understandable and clear, but the score, while good, is a bit overpowering.
I watched the behind-the-scenes featurette prior to watching the film, which is why I know it was shot on 8mm film. The making-of here is far more about the catering of the shoot and the rental house than anything really film related. It's about seven minutes of nothing that adds to the story. There's also the interview with self-stylized ZoZologist Darren Evans previously mentioned. He describes himself as a ZoZo survivor. He tells the story of his own experiences with ZoZo. I can't say that he's necessarily a believable person, but it's clear he himself believes strongly. Honestly, his interview is the best thing on the DVD. And I still wouldn't recommend seeking it out. Save your time, it's precious.