ZAPPER! falls into the film category of surreal. There’s lots of kaleidoscopic color, off-beat and out-of-sync imagery, and characters who oddly traverse the fictional world in creation. There’s also a story where the players are pursuing a cryptic goal. No need to fully understand, your best bet is to sit back and let Nick Gatsby’s 89 minute feature rush past.
The promo material tells us that, “In a surreal universe where bananas shoot laser beams and soup cans are used as grenades, a wacky cast of gangsters are thrown into a deadly game against one another in order to claim a mystical relic known as The King’s Board.”
The film begins with a futuristic score (Gatsby/Julie McCarthy), and a matching light show. Of course, the first image is a banana, and the sense of silliness has you feeling pretty good.
Then we get some people. Played by Andrew Scott Dixon, Phyllis Ramie and Grifter Timber Wolf, they are the orchestrators of the search for three puzzle pieces that will result in obtaining the prized possession
A competition it seems, they each have their hands positioned differently, which probably means something. But who really has the time, and the same goes as the special effects feed us some more cryptic imagery.
Encased by a darkened background, they float in and an evil omnipotence surrounds in silhouette. At the same time, all three actors carry a hard gangster edge and do the necessary work of meshing the off-kilter dialogue into the milieu.
The drama now incited, we meet Daffy (Gatsby) who will go in search of the pieces and his handler Lucy (Skye Armenta). Set against a psychedelic visual and audio backdrop, the actor’s laid-back weed and mushroom induced delivery, blends in perfectly. Opposite the hipsterish character, Armenta rolls with the caricature, and through her back-and-forth playoff, we see that Lucy is very familiar with the neighborhood.
She also provides the specs. But the very involved and convoluted window dressing reiterates that the surreal takes precedence.
So the pursuit begins, the light show between black, white and the visual spectrum continues, and just as important, Daffy also says some funny stuff. Swept along, a random approach to the story gets turned into a child’s alphabet board, which probably means something. But making sense, that’s up to the beholder.
Of course, we get some more characters, and they got some weird stuff going on too. You could even go as far to say that their appearance alongside the established paradigm of surrealism compels you to continue with the enigma.
A similar sentiment is reinforced by a killer stuffed moose head that oinks, and a very happy young woman (Laurel Kathleen Barrett) who periodically appears. She twirls her blonde hair and hula hoop and does so for no apparent reason. Still not done with the irregularity, a hip guy clad in black with cool sunglasses, shines in his superimposed image, and the meaningless nae nae he throws makes you gasp with joy.
Nonetheless, the operatives in pursuit of the jigsaw pieces go from one to the next. But no surprise, the trans dimensional plane they traverse, and the manner in which they carry us along, does not change.
Ultimately, The Lost Ark – so to speak – is unearthed and players land where they land. It probably means something but do our busy lives permit? Maybe, because the optics, the dialogue, the sound effects and the entire mishmash kind of makes the minutes go by. So even if you can’t figure it out, you’ll feel off-center enough to enjoy.