Sci-Fi London Film Festival: Zoo-Head

A Head Scratching Sci-Fi

by Nadia Kuin

6.5

THE QUICK SELL
An addict is trapped to live the same day over and over again when he is placed onto an experimental rehabilitation program that involves memory-looping.

RELEASE DATE
20th May 2019

DIRECTED BY
Navin Dev

WRITTEN BY
Navin Dev

Running Time:
1h 20min

 
 

Zoo Head starts with a digital swirling brain and nervous system that gives the impression that the movie is going be full impressive digital creations – it’s not and there’s a sharp shock between this image and the opening scene of two addicts in a hovel kitchen.

Zoo Head is a story of Charlie, Daniel Ahmadi (“Dilemma”, “Redemptions End”) a nobody addicted to a cocktail of drugs including the memory shattering, delusion-inducing ‘Zoots’.

The movie follows him as he is forced to undergo memory correcting therapy at Infinity in an attempt to get him back on track.

Infinity have developed a technique whereby they send a person back to an earlier memory, one before their habit, loop it and hope the brain starts to accept this new none drug fuelled existence.

Things don’t go to plan though and Charlie dies, then wakes up again, and again, and again, each time with every stronger delusions. 

Navin Dev has written and directed a movie that’s trippy, gritty and every bit as messed up as it’s main character.  Zoo Head makes you feel as if you’re the one who’s been hitting the ‘Zoots’ – the movie skips around here there and everywhere so you no longer have the faintest idea what’s real or not. Is this intentional – are you meant to be in delusion with Charlie or is it brain-boggling for its own sake? 

Although the acting doesn’t start very well it does pick up as the movie crawls its sloth-like way forward.

Charlie isn’t exactly a nice character and I doubt there’s going to be much audience sympathy for him but Ahmadi really falls into the part as the movie progresses, he’s particularly good as the horror-stricken patient and the completely lost, terrified addict.

Hussina Raja (“The Survivalist”, “Discovery Of Witches (TV)”) plays the part of Megan, the loving but disillusioned girlfriend.

An ex-addict herself (though she doesn’t look like it) her role is to try and save Charlie from himself. Raja is a little stilted at times but she’s generally the more convincing of the actors in Zoo Head and many of her scenes come across very naturally. 

If you stick the movie out to the end you may find the closing scenes profound. You may be rewarded with all the answers, but the twisting, slippery nature of the film means you could equally be being given nothing.  

Zoo Head is a hard film to judge, is it very clever and all things really do tie together or it is purposefully confusing, overly complicated and trying just a little too hard to be clever?

In the end I settled for a middling score because I couldn’t decide without watching it a second time. (In fairness though, any film that makes you want to go back a second time and watch it can’t be that bad). 

 

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