THE MOVIE The summer before their senior high-school year, friends Andre (Andre Kriegman) and Cal (Calvin Robertson) start making their own video diary, taking turns talking to the camera about their project. The sometimes too serious Andre comes across as the bossy one of the pair, the one who has to focus the blond, daydreaming Cal and get him on point. Itís an involved project, with many stages they have to get done, without their parents, relatives, or friends knowing anything about it. Their plan: going to school heavily armed and taking out as many classmates as possible on the first day the temperature hits zero.
Gus Van Santís Elephant is the more artful, abstracted exploration of post-Columbine high-school nihilism; writer-director Ben Coccioís Zero Day is the more disturbing psychodrama. Unspooling as the series of digital videos Andre and Cal make and store in the safe deposit box found after their deaths, Zeroís haunting spell is how effectively and effortlessly it lets Andre and Cal convince you of the inevitability of their act. These two bring that single-mined teenage-boy energy to the enterprise. The two look and act like any other pair of insular friends who spend so much time together they practically share the same brain, and usually in this sort of relationship the guys would devote this sort of attention to comic books or video games or smoking dope or whatever. Andre and Calís hobby just happens to be oblivion.
Itís this sense of something not right in the totally ordinary that slowly makes Zero Day sink under the skin and hit bone. Andre buys and modifies a standard shotgun stock into a pistol grip, and when his parents are out he has Cal film and time him changing them out, trying to do it in under 60 seconds. The pair go shooting with Andreís cousin, using old toys and stuffed animals as targets, and the teenage-boy glee they bring to destruction is coldly twisted when Cal innocently wonders aloud, ďWhat would you use if you wanted to kill people?Ē The zero day itself has to be moved because Andre is ill at the first chill, and when the pair finally set an attack date, the event is shot as if through wall-mounted security cameras, a perspective that both distances and amplifies the shootings into heartstopping trauma. This DVD doesnít come with extras, but this 2003 feature enjoyed but a very limited run, and itís arresting enough all by itself.