Tag Archives: Ben Coccio

Zero Day (2003)

"What? We're kids, and we ain't all right. What about it?"Conceived in the wake of Columbine and completed in 2001, Zero Day sat on a shelf for two years before it saw the light of day. Something happened in the fall of 2001, on some date I can never quite remember, despite the gnawing sensation that we, as a nation, swore never to forget. In any case, The Event (whatever it was) panicked Zero Day‘s distributors into canceling the film’s release. Undeterred, writer/director Ben Coccio used the time to do what all serious creative people do with their stalled projects: tinker. The result gained a limited release in 2003. The fact that I only heard about this film last week should tell you just how “limited.” I like to believe that, even in the midst of 2003’s War Fever, I would’ve noticed a “school shooter” movie opening up down the street. Yet, in the course of researching my next novel (goddamn that feels good to type) I’ve discovered three from that year alone. (Thanks, Variety–you industry rag, you). So here we are, with the first.

A pseudo-documentary from the first great post-Blair Witch wave, Zero Day, is another testament to the effective use of limited resources. Like a good insurgency, it turns its weaknesses into strengths, luring the viewer into a subjective, cinematic Venus flytrap with its hyper-realist atmosphere, achieved without professional actors or equipment. Coccio goes so far as to cast real teenagers and their real families, and while I’ll argue that the film is decidedly ambiguous, and take it to task for (I believe the technical term is) “pussying out,” I want to salute the film’s hypnotic effectiveness right off the bat. {More}