Directed by: Nick Gatsby
Written by: Nick Gatsby
Starring: Skye Armenta, Nick Gatsby, Christopher James Taylor
Serving up surrealist sci-fi, filmmaker Nick Gatsby invites viewers to take a “trip” with him in this experimental comedy Zapper!. Not a film for any viewer who suffers from epilepsy, the film achieves and maintains an acid-trip aesthetic throughout, constantly shifting colour and utilising a smorgasbord of special effects and wacky props (the guns are bananas).
A group of higher beings engage in an annual game whereby they use lowly zappers to compete for glory. This time, the combatants are attempting to locate four puzzle pieces that have been scattered in parks near conveniently placed portholes. Together, the puzzle pieces create a mystical longboard. We follow a few different zappers along the way, who all meet with an array of treachery, gangsters, and oddball characters - with only their trusty weapon (rich in potassium and fibre) to keep them playing.
It’s easy to get distracted by the visuals in Zapper! - a lot of the visual elements are fun and give the indie film a certain charm, however, with an enjoyable electronic score and effective soundscape (listen out for the use of echoing maniacal laughter), it’s a movie that has been rigorously worked on and has a lot of impressive moments. Several of the gags are also well executed, in particular a certain psychopathic moose.
Sadly, the kaleidoscopic colour changes outstay their welcome and make the film an endurance test for those willing to see the movie through. The plot starts fairly strong but loses its way in the second half, with the viewer being jolted on to different protagonists not helping things. Seemingly mundane scenes get given way too much room to breathe and the actors just aren’t up to the task of keeping us intrigued with the childish dialogue and melodrama.
Embarking on a hallucinatory comedy caper is a brave task and Gatsy gets a tip of the balaclava for that. Were it a full-throttled short with a cohesive plot and fewer characters, Zapper! could have gone the distance. As it is, the film is a trip few will go on and more will leave during.