Event Zero (2017) is a heartbreaking disappointment. Heartbreaking, because we all want to see bold new visions of this amazing country from visionary writers, brave directors and talented young actors. Instead, this film is so frenetically disjointed that it’s like being on the receiving end of a savage Heimlich manoeuvre when you didn’t need one. Event Zero is the stillborn offspring of a 2012 web-series by the same name, and the only challenge it presents is to test your resolve in supporting local actors, writers and directors (Enzo Tedeschi of The Tunnel (2011) fame). One thing it does in spades is to remind us why we’re fond of truisms, such as: you can’t polish a turd.

Several familiar faces come together to sink this project. A bunch of 90’s has-beens including Zoe Carides (Death in Brunswick (1990)), Nicholas Hope (Bad Boy Bubby (1993)), and Raelee Hill (Water Rats (1996)) suffer for an awful script, but also from horribly wooden acting. Particularly sad to see how the bright candle of artistic hope has gone out of Carides’ eye; she’s just paying the bills now, and it shows. Speaking of script, the writing ‘credits’ go to Greta Harrison and Matthew Vaughan, with a nod to Enzo Tedeschi and Mike Jones who co-wrote the web-series. Unfortunately, their combined genius is an uneasy agreement to bolt the seven five-minute webisodes together and pad them out with lots of pointless swearing. Think dialogue from Veep in heavily-accented strine: it just doesn’t work.

Crap writing, stilted acting, the lazy and unimaginative setting of the entire film within five kilometres of the Sydney CBD, all combine to create something sadly forgettable. The protagonist ‘rogue cop’ runs around in tight leather pants and an ill-fitting bra, and shouts ‘fuck!’ a lot. Her dishwater love interest sounds like he’s fighting a lisp the whole time. It says a lot that the most persuasive characters of all are familiar Aussie stereotypes — the singlet-clad, gap-toothed, mullet-wearing racists could have time-warped live from the 2005 Cronulla riots. Its about the only thing that does work, and then only to grimly remind us that genuine anti-Muslim sentiment simmers just beneath the surface of a whole disaffected tribe of ‘real Aussies’.

But at least they are making Australian films, even if they go pretty much straight to dvd. Fixing this movie would be like renovating a block of 70’s era units. You might be better off tearing the eyesore down and starting again. Timeliness is a factor — in the loose and angry decade between Cronulla riots and the Lindt Cafe siege, do we really need a badly-written film about racial tension in modern Australia? No, we need another incisive and timely Romper Stomper (1992) but, with maybe the exception of Down Under (2016), we haven’t come even close. Even accepting the anti-Aristotelian conclusion that sometimes things are less than the sum of their parts, I’m left blaming the writing, and that vexes me no end.

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