Zyzzyx Road (2006) John Penney
Production Budget: $2 million
You read that right. This movie is the record holder for lowest grossing movie of all time with a whopping $30 dollars. Now you may naturally think this movie sucks a big one if it only made $30 dollars. After all, my parents spent more pity money on my marching band than John Penney could scrounge up for Zyzzyx Road. But really, I found something like this to be inevitable. Okay, maybe not $30 dollars bad but something like it. The movie industry is in such a state that so many movies are being released some big budget blockbusters are forced out in a few weeks. What chance do many indie movies have in this kind of market?
This movie never even had aspirations of hitting it big at the box office either. Zyzzyx had to be released per SAG contracts so it was limped out for six days at one small theater. It was never intended to do well, but the producers probably never figured it would be now legendary for it. But now to actually talk about whether this movie is good or not.
The movie is about Grant (Leo Grillo), a bland accountant who was having an affair with Lolita like prostitute Marissa (Katherine Heigl). Marissa’s jealous boyfriend Joey (Tom Sizemore) attacks them and Grant kills him. Grant and Marissa are taking the body to Zyzzyx Road to bury the body in the middle of the desert. However it appears Joey was not dead and is harassing the couple.
Probably the first big red flag that pops up for Zyzzyx Road is that it is not a straight ahead horror movie about Joey attacking this couple but a kind of mind bending thriller. Within the first five minutes we see our lead Grant, has a bump on the head and is hallucinating things. So immediately we know we can’t trust our storyteller and that the movie is building to a bullshit twist. That is not a good start because at that point I also lost interest. Why should I be invested in these characters and what is going on when I know the writer is just stringing me along to pull the rug out from under me? Although, its not like much happens in the first third of the movie anyway. Joey pops out of the trunk and the couple lock themselves in the car to avoid being attacked. So for about 25 minutes we have to endure the horrible banter of these characters as the movie wastes our time.
In the second act you may be partially tricked that the twist has already come. Grant finally (FINALLY) runs into Joey. Joey explains though that he was not trying to kill Grant but Marissa because (get this) Marissa is a demon who lures its prey with sex then drains your life force. Temporarily my interest is piqued as I rather like the concept of Tom Sizemore as a demon slayer who is fighting sex demon Katherine Heigl. Throw in Mel Gibson as Sizemore’s partner and you have the makings of one of the funniest buddy movies ever. So the second half is spend with Joey and Grant hunting Marissa.
But then the final twist comes. Instead of an interesting movie like the one presented in the second act, it turns out Grant is just crazy and everything we know about the movie is completely wrong. So, in actuality, our movie starts properly in the third act of the movie. I say that because nothing in the story before hand can be trusted. Nothing. Even Heigl’s character undergoes a serious change. In the first act Heigl is this bumbling blond who’s only contribution to covering up a murder is to constantly suck on Ring Pops. In the third act she is seemingly a strong independent woman who can survive against both the desert and psycho Grant. I don’t even think Hitchcock would have the balls to sack our main character two thirds of the way through the movie. Maybe he did but Hitchcock’s brains finally overrode his balls. So yeah, after all that time wasted we just get Grant chasing Marissa through the desert like a low budget slasher film. Although I also liked the comic potential of a movie where a mild mannered accountant has a crazy Vegas weekend with Tom Sizemore. Tell me you wouldn’t pay to see that movie! Throw in a cameo with Ben Affleck and you have the next Hangover.
This film actually reminds me of those DTV cash ins at the video store. It is one of those films made prior to somebody making it big which is then re-released to cash in on their success like Going Overboard. Either that or it would be some BS sequel to a franchise like Jeepers Creepers 3 or something. This movie is bad although I didn’t find it legendarily bad. The movie is built on a BS twist which means the rest of the movie will either be boring or plain suck until it is revealed. Honestly, this movie needed to be a straight forward horror movie from the start. Psycho Tom Sizemore killing people may not have been the most inventive idea in the world, but it at least would have been more entertaining. There is no reason to see this movie though. Zyzzyx Road is a dull movie and doesn’t even rise to the level of being a so bad it’s funny type bad movie. Well, at least it is funnier than The Ugly Truth.