Movie of the Week: Z

So there I was relaxing in the recliner after a long day at work.  I had my earbuds in watching Z on my tablet.  My son was playing with his toys and watching a sitcom on Disney+.  He was doing those things until he decided he needed to ask me a question.  He tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Dad,” at which point I nearly jumped out of my skin.  I may have uttered a word or two of profanity, but we won’t tell his grandmother that part.

Suffice it to say, Z is an engrossing, effective little chiller.

In the movie, eight-year-old Joshua is a kid the other kids at his school label weird.  The kids of those parents do, too, and Joshua’s teacher, though she likes him, has trouble with him.  In fact his teacher has to take drastic disciplinary action and suspends him indefinitely.

The suspension comes as a shock to Joshua’s mom, Beth.  She knows her son has his problems, but is blindsided by what the teacher tells her of his outbursts in the classroom:  the bullying, the improper language, etc.  The teacher is surprised Beth isn’t aware of the problems since she sent home notes which were returned signed by Kevin.  That would be Beth’s husband and Joshua’s dad.  Turns out dear old dad kept it on the down low and his defense is that Joshua was more or less just being a boy.

In the middle of all of this, Joshua develops a new friend, Z.  Z is an imaginary friend and the only friend Joshua has outside of his parents.  Beth and Kevin find Z harmless, but the more Beth watches her son interact with the fantasy friend as she navigates her days of caring for Joshua and tending to her dying mother, the more she comes to suspect something just ain’t right.  This being a horror movie, you know her motherly instincts are correct.

I love it when stories start, more or less, normal and then scheisse turns weird.  Going into it, as a viewer, you know things are going to go horribly wrong, but the movie sets up a relatable reality before knocking down the dominoes.  There’s nothing to spoil by saying Z may not be completely imaginary.  Luckily, there’s more to this twisted tale that may surprise you.  If it doesn’t surprise you, it should at least entertain you.

After watching this movie, I thought about my son’s own imaginary friend he used to have a few years ago.  His name was Jack.  Me being me, I always thought what if good old Jack was real, or a ghost, or…something.  My son talked to Jack a lot, played with him, created adventures with him, and blamed Jack for several misdeeds (mostly crayon drawings on the wall).  More than once was the time I walked into an empty room and asked, “Jack, are you here?”  Imaginary friends are normal, nearly every child has one, or possibly more.  After seeing Z, I’m kinda glad Jack no longer surfaces at our house.

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