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Zero Percent

average rating is 3 out of 5


William Hemingway


Posted on:

Jan 25, 2024

Film Reviews
Zero Percent
Directed by:
J.W. Cox
Written by:
J.W. Cox
Brandi Botkin, Chris Dettone, Kennedy Hancock

Trapped in a dingy basement is Eden (Botkin). She has a thin mattress down on the floor, placed against the back wall, to serve as a makeshift bed and she has nothing save for her underwear and a very thin blanket to preserve her modesty. She has her friend Bacon, a stuffed toy pig, to help keep her company although he can’t, of course, provide her with any advice or physical assistance. The Zero Percent of the title refers to the amount of chance Eden has, as related to her by her captor, a man referred to only as the Pastor (Dettone), of her getting out of the chain around her leg which keeps her prisoner. And so we are thrust into the middle of a dark and dangerous situation, albeit one which has been told many, many times in mostly the same sort of way, as we enter into the story of Zero Percent.


So, with strong reminiscences of The Disappearance Of Alice Creed (2009) and Room (2015), along with a slew of other films of a similar ilk, we’re asked yet again to sit through the imprisonment of a young female captive who must do her very best to survive, endure and ultimately escape her desperately dire situation. What writer/director J.W. Cox then does, to inject a smattering of intrigue into the rather well-worn scenario, is to suggest that something else may be going on outside the confines of the four walls of that small prison of a basement.


The way that the Pastor talks, introducing ideas of needing to scavenge for supplies, mentioning the ‘end of the world’, and invoking Revelations, is supposed to suggest to Eden, and of course to us, that some catastrophic calamity has befallen society. This ambiguity is then left hanging in the air, with no way of proving or disproving its reality, to Eden or to us, and shifts the narrative slightly, more towards that of another captive/survival/horror movie, 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016). This, however, does nothing to shift the feeling that we’ve seen this sort of thing before.


Thankfully, the basement isn’t quite as dingy as it may first appear, with plenty of light streaming in through the windows from up at street level. This allows cinematographer, Matthew Kennedy to capture that light, and the colour that it provides, to create some genuinely good looking shots. Cox’s direction is also steady and sure, being as he is a veteran of more than fifteen shorts over the course of his career, and none of the small details are missed when cutting to characters’ faces or the hidden machinations of Eden. The sound design is effective, except for maybe one short scene, and the score from Jack McCarthy provides a decent brooding atmosphere to keep the viewer firmly grounded in the scenario. The main performance from Brandi Botkin as Eden is also very strong.


There may very well be some sort of commentary going on here from Cox about the nature of the church, or religion, or God – what with the captor being a pastor, that Eden is a pretty obvious epithet, and that nobody can legitimately verify if what the pastor is saying is the truth – but unfortunately nothing along these lines really gets explored during the short ten-minute runtime. It would have been nice if there really was something else going on behind the scenes as it would have offered another dimension to what is otherwise a pretty average captive movie with nothing else to add to an already over-saturated genre.

About the Film Critic
William Hemingway
William Hemingway
Short Film
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