Brandon Christensen’s new film, Z, addresses the idea that we can outgrow our deepest fears. Z follows Keegan Connor Tracy’s Elizabeth Parsons and her husband living the idyllic quiet life in suburbs America. Elizabeth’s world begins to unravel when she gets called to her school to find out that her young son, Joshua has report after report of violent behavior and acting out. Jett Klyne’s Joshua never once takes the blame, calmly insisting he was pushed by his imaginary friend, “Z”.
Right from the start, director and co-writer, Christensen throws us into the psychological stigmas that come from imaginary friends with a kinetic dive into childhood as Joshua plays with his toys. As his remote-controlled train runs over his action figures, he’s called to breakfast with his parents before he’s sent off to school where we see how much of loner Joshua is. Christensen and his co-writer Colin Minihan smartly pick their moments to bring into the story instead of choosing to play off our own fears with very real ideas about the shadows that haunted our bedrooms as children never really leave us even in adulthood.
While it’s one of those films that relies heavily on jump scares, Christensen’s eye for tempo makes these scares work: You will jump at some of these. Christensen also gives us a moment that is so truly unexpected that I found myself in genuine shock. Again speaking to Christensen and Minihan picking their moments, it’s this moment that turns up the tempo of this film as Elizabeth’s world truly comes crashing down.
And it’s this cast that brings this film together. Final Destination 2, The Magicians star, Keegan Connor Tracy more than handles the weight of the role as her world comes apart physically and psychological. Especially after a psychiatrist, played by the always unsettling Canadian film staple, Stephen McHattie, delivers a turn that turns the third act into a powerhouse for Keegan Connor Tracy.
Bitten star, Sean Rogerson has great chemistry with Tracy. Jett Klyne is breaking the stigma of child actors with a performance that always leaves you wondering if Z’s pushing him to do these things or if it’s just him. The Vampire Diaries and Nancy Drew star, Sara Canning doesn’t get a lot to work with as Elizabeth’s sister but makes the role her own.
The film draws heavily on Poltergeist to the point where Z displays it’s intentions a little too much. The film, at times, feels like it’s telling you to expect Poltergeist but you’re definitely not going to be getting it. That being said, Christensen may be picking his moments to bring us Z but those moments are very well rewarded. Canadian filmmaking again gives us an incredibly good looking film from the start of the family dynamic to the horror themes and the very dark ending. Z is a visual feast that feels nostalgic at times and will definitely keep you jumping. Z gets a rating of 3 ½ starts out of 5.