Film Review: POPULATION ZERO (USA/Canada 2015) ***1/2

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:

population zero.jpgIn 2009 three young men were killed in a remote part of Yellowstone National Park. The only thing more shocking than the crime itself are the bizarre events that followed.

Directors: Julian T. Pinder, Adam Levins
Writer: Jeff Staranchuk
Stars: Duane Murray, Julian T. Pinder, Jonathan Potts

Review by Gilbert Seah 

 There is much to appreciate in watching POPULATION ZERO. The least one knows about the film, the more enjoyable and eerie the film will be. I went into it knowing absolutely nothing and ended up totally absorbed and bedazzled by the piece. So, if one has the intention of watching the film, DO NOT read this or any other review of the film.

That said, the film is a mockumentary. This fact in itself spoils the film’s enjoyment as co-director Pinder introduces himself as a documentarian in the film, and one (if unaware of the film being a mockumentary) will naturally assume all that will occur on screen be true. Wrong – though the film is based on a true incident, the fact that the story telling of the film unfolds in found footage form and documentary style, one tends to believe everything seen on screen.

The filmmakers were inspired to make the movie after learning of the existence of the “Zone of Death”, a small portion of Yellowstone National Park that under the Sixth Amendment’s Vicinage Clause, would enable “The Perfect Crime”.

Bring in the murder of three young men in the Park’s worst crime in history committed by Dwayne Dwayne Nelson (Duane Murray)and one has quite the story. In 2009, Nelson confessed to the shooting of three men in Yellowstone National Park. Despite his confession being accurately detailed, he was not convicted of the crimes because the crime occurred in an uninhabited area and as such, there is no chance of finding a jury to hear the trial. This is the loophole in the law that resulted from the POPULATION ZERO of the title. All is clearly explained in the film. But it is years later that Julian T. Pinder (playing himself, a documentarist) examines the crime and the legal loophole that allowed Nelson to walk free. As the film progresses Pinder begins to receive strange and frightening items, evidence of Nelson’s crime.

Directors Pinder and Levins are good storytellers. What begins as a real life murder eventually evolves into a totally concocted tale that is made so credible that one would believe it to be true. And it could very well have been true. The film’s pacing is close to perfect with the suspense and shock level building to an exploding climax towards the end.

The film also comes with a neat message delivered to big companies doing bad things to poor people. The film also scarily lets the audience unsuspectedly take the murderer’s side. For whatever had been done to him, he deserves the right to take his revenge. When it is revealed that Nelson could have masterminded the entire crime including his freedom using everyone including the Pinder for his cause, one cannot help but applaud the man.

POPULATION ZERO works as it is horrific yarn based on a true event, told convincingly in found footage documentary style. Made in 2015, it world premiered at the Newport Beach International Film Festival on April 26, 2016 and finally makes it debut. See it!


Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out:

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month:

One thought on “Film Review: POPULATION ZERO (USA/Canada 2015) ***1/2

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s