Zero Killed

Chard Core

Screening at the Sydney Underground Film Festival, Michal Kosakowski’s unusual documentary explores people’s murder fantasies.
Zero Killed
German director Michal Kosakowski explores the intricacies of death in its various forms in his feature length debut documentary, Zero Killed. Over ten years in the making, the film asks people from everyday life, from all over the world, to share something special, something undeniably intimate; specifically, their ‘murder fantasies’.

Don’t roll your eyes, we all have them.

The ultimate elephant in the room, death will eventually consume us all. Even though we’ve been taught to repress thoughts of it, its shadow stretches across our lives and manifests in countless ways.

The ways Kosakowski’s nameless participants process death, and expand upon their thoughts about it when given free reign by him to do so, lies at very centre of Zero Killed.

Each one is given the opportunity to realize their own staged murder fantasy on film, with one condition; they must appear as themselves in it.

Each such scene is original, but familiar, from the poisoning that takes place in a warm, provincial countryside, to the grimy walls of a torture chamber; from a comfy chair with a large stash of drugs nearby, to murdering, being murdered, even murdering yourself.

The documentary runs the gamut of experience, mixing shocking violence with meditations on murder, revenge, torture and suicide. It could easily have slipped into ‘Torture Porn’ territory and become an infantile exercise, but instead of succumbing to teenage fantasies and lust-fuelled revenge, it shows restraint.

Protagonists are interviewed prior to committing ‘murder’ on screen, and then re-interviewed at a later date. Reflecting on the chance to live out their darkest fantasies seems to have granted them glimpses into the soul most of us can only hope to dream of. Certainly it seems to have mellowed all the people involved. Seeing some of them angry and confused before the shoot, then later chatting away about it all and smiling, articulating lucid ideas about our ultimate nature, is engaging but also a little unsettling.

Zero Killed moves rapidly between violence, talking heads and modern insights on ways to die. In making the film, Kosakowski has done what many don’t dare to do; he has looked at death through another’s eyes.

4 stars out of 5

Zero Killed
Directed by Michal Kosakowski
Austria/Germany, 2011, 81 mins

Sydney Underground Film Festival
The Factory Theatre, Marrickville
September 6 – 9

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Chard Core is a freelance writer, amateur stand-up comedian, musician and cultural chronicler. He currently resides in Sydney, but is prepared to relocate at a moment’s notice of a zombie outbreak.