|David Fincher Director||previously directed Panic Room|
A serial killer in the San Francisco Bay Area taunts police with his letters and cryptic messages. We follow the investigators and reporters in this lightly fictionalized account of the true 1970's case as they search for the murderer, becoming obsessed with the case.
Was sent to theaters under the name "Gemini".
While David is leaving the theater, a Dirty Harry poster can be seen behind him as he is walking down the steps.
8 More Quotes
Before I kill you, I'm going to throw your baby out the window.
|Jake Gyllenhaal||Robert Graysmith|
|Mark Ruffalo||David Toschi|
|Anthony Edwards||Inspector William Armstrong|
|Robert Downey Jr.||Paul Avery|
|Brian Cox||Melvin Belli|
|John Carroll Lynch||Arthur Leigh Allen|
|Richmond Arquette||Zodiac 1 / Zodiac 2|
|Bob Stephenson||Zodiac 3|
|John Lacy||Zodiac 4|
|See Full Credits|
The film opens with the following message: What follows is based on actual case files.
July 4th, Vallejo, CA
Darlene Ferrin and Michael Mageau are sitting in an empty parking lot when they are suddenly attacked by an unidentified gunman. The shooter then calls the Vallejo police department and informs them of what has transpired. Mageau would survive the attack.
August, San Francisco, CA
A letter arrives at the San Francisco Chronicle from someone taking credit for the Independence Day attack as well as a similar murder of two teens the previous December. Attached to the letter is a cipher which, according to the letter, contains the killer’s identity. Furthermore, the letter contains a threat that if the cipher is not published, the author will go on a murderous rampage.
The letter is signed only with a symbol:
Soon after, another letter arrives at the Chronicle, with the authoring dubbing himself “The Zodiac”. The letters draw the attention of criminal reporter Paul Avery and cartoonist Robert Graysmith. The code is quickly deciphered but no name is given.
September 27th, Napa, CA
While visiting Lake Berryessa, Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shephard are held at gunpoint by a masked man wearing the Zodiac’s symbol. The pair are bound before being stabbed repeatedly. Just as in the Vallejo attack, the crime is reported by someone claiming to be the perpetrator. Hartnell would survive the attack.
October 11th, San Francisco CA
Cab driver Paul Stine is shot in the back of the head by a patron after arriving at Persidio Heights. The crime is quickly reported by residents of the neighborhood. Detectives David Toschi and Paul Armstrong arrive at the scene of the crime and acquire a vague description of the shooter from witnesses. A partial print on a shell casing is recovered as well as some blood not belonging to Stine. As it was first reported, police were told to look for a black man, while the witnesses all agreed the shooter was white. Three minutes after the shooting, a patrol car passed a man matching the updated description, but ignored him, having been told that the suspect was black .
Three days later, a letter arrives at the Chronicle containing a bloody piece of clothing that belonged to Stine. Later, Avery, who is covering the Zodiac attacks, publishes an article claiming that the killer is likely a latent homosexual. Also, it comes to inspector Toschi’s attention that Mageau has left San Francisco for fear of his life and that footprints left at the Vallejo crime scene were likely from military boots.
October 22, San Francisco, CA
A man claiming to be the Zodiac calls the Oakland police department to inform them that he will be calling into the Jim Dunbar talkshow. The caller requests that attorney Melvin Belli is present for council. The call reaches the show and a meeting is arranged between Belli and the caller. Although the caller does not appear at the meeting place, a trace on the call indicates that it came from a mental institution. Despite this, the Oakland phone operator does not believe that the person who called the Jim Dunbar show was the same person as the one who had called earlier.
November, San Francisco, CA
Another letter from the Zodiac appears at the Chronicle, this one containing schematics for a bomb as well as another cipher. The letter mentions that the Zodiac has a basement.
December 20th, San Francisco, CA
Melvin Belli receives a letter from the Zodiac appealing for help in controlling his impulses. Attached is another piece of Stine's clothing.
March 22nd, Highway 133, Near Modesto, CA
Kathleen Jones is driving when another motorist stops her and offers to fix her loose tire. Shortly after resuming driving, the wheel falls off Jones’ car. The motorist returns and offers Jones’ and her baby a ride to the nearest service station. Upon passing a service station, the driver claims he will kill Jones’ and throw her baby out of the car. A transport truck finds a hysterical Jones on the highway, having jumped from the stranger’s car.
April-July, San Francisco, CA
More Zodiac letters arrive at the Chronicle, taking credit for Jones’ abduction as well as several other murders.
October 27th, San Francisco, CA
Following months of silence, the Zodiac writes another letter, this time to Paul Avery. In it, he makes threats against Avery’s life, likely in response to the article written by Avery. Following an anonymous tip, Avery learns that the murder of Cheri Bates in 1966 may have been committed by the Zodiac. Avery publishes his findings, much to the chagrin of the authorities.
July 7th, San Francisco, CA
A concerned citizen informs Toschi and Armstrong of a man who had previously talked about performing killings in a similar fashion to Zodiac. The man’s name is Arthur Leigh Allan, a Vallejo resident and former school teacher who was fired for molestation of a student. Handwriting analysis is inconclusive until it is revealed that Allan is ambidextrous.
August 4th, Rodeo, CA
In an interview with the detectives, Allan denies expressing murderous ambitions and claims he is only left-handed. He also claims to have an alibi for the lake Barryessa attack. Toschi is convinced of Allan’s guilt but handwriting analysis of Allan’s left hand does not match the writing in the Zodiac letters.
September 7th, Santa Rosa, CA
A warrant is given to the detectives to search a trailer owned by Allan, based on recently surfaced psychiatric evaluations. The trailer contains clothing and weapons similar to those used by the Zodiac, however ballistic, fingerprint and handwriting analysis cannot link Allan to the crime. A frustrated Toschi takes some time off, at which point he meets Robert Graysmith, who’s interest in the case has grown greater with time.
With no new leads turning up, Armstrong transfers departments, leaving Toschi to handle the Zodiac case. Graysmith visits an alcoholic and reclusive Avery and tries to convince him to write a book on the Zodiac, in the hopes of turning up new evidence. Avery, who is initially dismissive of the idea, quickly becomes hostile as Graysmith asks him questions about the case. Graysmith then meets with Toschi, having uncovered new clues regarding the origins of the Zodiac’s cipher. Toschi, while unable to openly talk about an ongoing case, directs Graysmith to key figures in the investigation. Looking through police records informs Graysmith that Darlene Ferrin may have known the person who killed her. At the home of Melvin Belli, Graysmith learns that Belli’s maid had answered a phone call from the Zodiac in December and that the caller said he needed to kill because it was his birthday. Following the announcement that he is writing a book about the Zodiac, Graysmith begins to receive mysterious phone calls at night from an unknown caller. Another anonymous caller informs Graysmith that the Zodiac's real name is Rick Marshall. Marshall turns out to be a prime suspect in the investigation, having had a background in military code breaking.
April 26th, San Francisco, CA
After 51 months of silence, a new Zodiac letter arrives at the Chronicle. However the letter is believed to be a forgery created by Toschi. At his breaking point, Toschi severs ties with Graysmith.
Graysmith meets with a former co-worker of Marshall, Bob Vaughn. At Vaughn’s home, Graysmith learns that handwriting samples thought to link Marshall to the Zodiac letters were not Marshall’s, but were actually Vaughn’s. Suspicious of Vaughn, Graysmith quickly leaves.
Graysmith locates Darlene Ferrin’s sister Linda who does not recognize the name Rick Marshall. However, she remembers that Darlene had an unusual friend named Leigh who had served in the military. After continuing to investigate Allan, Graysmith finds out that his true birthday is December 18th. Allan, having been in prison from 1975 to 1977 for molestation, was absent for the majority of the Zodiac’s silence. With mounting circumstantial evidence, Graysmith is able to reignite Toschi’s interest in the case, but the lack of hard evidence makes an indictment impossible.
December 20th, Vallejo, CA
Graysmith goes to the hardware store where Allan now works, looks him in the eye and leaves.
August 16th, Ontario, Canada
22 years after the attack, a much older Michael Mageau identifies Allan from a photographic line-up as the man who attacked him on July 4th, 1969.
The film ends with the message:
“Following Mike Mageau’s identification of Arthur Leigh Allen, authorities scheduled a meeting to discuss charging him with the murders. Allen suffered a fatal heart attack before this meeting could take place.”
“In 2002, a partial DNA profile, that did not match Allen, was developed from a 33 year-old Zodiac envelope. Investigators in San Francisco and Vallejo refused to rule out Allen as a suspect on the basis of this test.”
“In 2004, the San Francisco Police Department deactivated their Zodiac investigation.”
“Today, the case remains open in Napa County, Solano County and in the city of Vallejo, where Arthur Leigh Allen is still the prime and only suspect.”
“Inspector David Toschi retired from the San Francisco Police Department in 1989. He was cleared of all charges that he wrote the 1978 Zodiac letter.”
“Paul Avery passed away on December 10, 2000 of pulmonary emphysema. He was 66. His ashes were scattered by his family in San Francisco Bay.”
“Robert Graysmith lives in San Francisco and enjoys a healthy relationship with his children. He claims he has not received a single anonymous call since Allen’s death.”
|review||review (3 out of 5)||ricardoga|
|forum||Just watched it and I have opinions.||Dylabaloo|
|forum||Just watched it and I have opinions.||Dylabaloo|
|review||Solid, and surprisingly factual (a review in 300 words) (4 out of 5)||ZanzibarBreeze|
|review||It Takes Stamina, but This is Fincher at His Best: Haunting (5 out of 5)||woolf|
|review||A True Tale of Fear and Obsession (5 out of 5)||Olivaw|