We gave it a D-
Our collective fascination with the minds of serial killers has, over the last few years, yielded a handful of queasy and accomplished small films reenacting the mayhem and madness of Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, and Charles Manson. So as I sat down to watch The Zodiac, a low-budget dramatization of the hunt for the Zodiac Killer, who famously terrorized the San Francisco area in the late ’60s (he was never apprehended), I assumed that the movie would filter this legendary case through a lens of forensic sophistication befitting the clinical-gothic era of CSI, the Lecter films, America’s Most Wanted, and so on. But no. The Zodiac has been made with the dunderheaded flatness of bad ’70s TV. The killer is nothing more than an anonymous stalker glimpsed in the shadows, the actors playing cops and reporters throw soap-opera fits, and the movie is so utterly desperate for a ”normal” angle that the principal detective (Justin Chambers), in unraveling the killer’s pattern, is two steps behind his wife (Robin Tunney) and wide-eyed son (Rory Culkin).