Sometimes the story behind a movie is better, or at least more interesting, than the movie itself. Case in point: Zero Contact. The movie was pieced together entirely from Zoom meeting footage, iPhone footage, security cams, etc. Not a first, really—see the superior Searching (2018) or Unfriended: Dark Web (also 2018), to name but two. But these weren’t produced during the COVID-19 lockdown period (though they had engrossing stories, which is preferable). The movie’s title doubles as a description of the production process. No two people were in the same room at the same time, apparently. And it was filmed in 17 countries.
One of the cast members happens to be the incomparable Anthony Hopkins. He improvises some piano playing, as well as all his lines, as Finley Hart. Hart is an innovative tech genius who has devised something akin to a time machine. But he’s dead (no spoiler, it’s right on the Blu-ray case summary) and he’s left behind short, rambling video monologues as bread crumbs for his son, Sam (Chris Brochu). It’s up to Sam to carry on his father’s legacy and not let his invention fade away, despite international pursuit by bad guys.
Something like that. It’s entirely incoherent, no exaggeration. But again, there’s the cool story behind the movie. Zero Contact was the first feature-length film to be released as an NFT via the Vuele platform. So even if the story itself is a hash of total nonsense, the marketing of the film was somewhat innovative. Without getting lost down the NFT rabbit hole (I know, I know, they’re the wave of the future and all that, I’m just too much of a rube to understand), I guess I’m not sure what the value of the Zero Contact NFT is now that anyone can buy the movie on Blu-ray.
And it doesn’t stop there—there’s already a plan to make a Zero Contact trilogy. The next chapter will be the first film to be shot on-location in Antarctica. Maybe, just maybe, the producers will figure out a way to tell a good story this time. To be entirely fair, Zero Contact does begin somewhat intriguingly. There are some suspenseful moments early on as the various pawns are assembled over a Zoom meeting and begin to suspect they’re all being spied on. And one guy sees a weird, ominous figure in his backyard who appears to vomit digital noise. But ultimately, it’s an easy movie to just kind of give up on once the plot becomes so convoluted. It’s kind of cool to see what bizarre ruminations Hopkins comes up with, but that’s not enough to sustain interest for 97 minutes.