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Film / Zero Day

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Andre Kriegman: Ready?
Cal Gabriel: Aim...''
—The words which marked the beginning of the massacre.

A 2003 film directed by Ben Coccio which shares a great number of similarities with the Columbine High School massacre. The film itself is presented in the form of video diaries recorded by the future gunmen, seniors Andre Kriegman and Calvin Gabriel. The recordings document the preparation and rather vague explanations given by the two, as well as seemingly random family scenes and events.

This film provides examples of:

  • Ax-Crazy: Both Calvin and Andre are violent lunatics, and as their shooting spree kicks off, it shows just how deranged both of them are.
  • All There in the Manual: Additional information about the setting, main characters and the shooting itself and its aftermath could be found on the now defunct official website of the film. The website was made to look like the official police report of the event and contained a step-by-step account of the attack, the name of the victims and the shooters' profiles.
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  • Artifact Title: An in-universe variation; Andre and Cal dub the name of their massacre "Zero Day" because they plan to have it occur on a day where the temperature is zero degrees. They later set the day of the massacre to be on May Day, as on the one day of the year it was zero degrees outside, Andre was sick and couldn't launch the attack. The boys keep the name regardless.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: The shooters decide they want to die on their own terms, not killed by the police forces.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Cal is portrayed as a gentle, shy and meek boy in his recorded material, with just an indefinable hint of something threatening simmering underneath the surface. The high school security cameras, however, capture a sadistic, violent, irritable and merciless teenager.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Andre and Cal, the shooters.
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  • Big "SHUT UP!": Andre and Cal scream at a wounded girl to shut up during the massacre.
  • Black Dude Dies First: One of the first people to die in the shooting is black.
  • City with No Name: The main character's hometown and high school remain unnamed throughout the story, possibly to give the impression that such things can happen anywhere.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Andre cracks jokes quite a bit, even when killing people.
  • Deconstruction: One prevalent idea about school shootings is that perpetrators are mentally unstable and abnormal freaks who did what they did because of violent music, videogames, neglectful parents, bullying or a combination of any of the aforementioned factors. The film takes this idea and tears it apart. The main characters look like perfectly normal teenage boys: they are intelligent, funny and good-looking, their regular clothes do not attract attention and their parents are loving and caring, if a little out of touch with them. The official website even reported that they had a decent sized circle of friends and were on good terms with many other students and that they were not singled out for bullying. Before their Zero Day, the boys decide to burn their possessions (books, cds, dvds, videogames, notes) because they knew that everybody will scrutinize their belongings after their death and end up saying that they did it because they were influenced by violent music, games etc. They insist that Zero Day was their idea, and that nobody influenced them.
  • Dissonant Serenity: The boys talk about their murderous plan with a chilling calmness and even smile as they either point the gun towards the unseen audience or talk about the devastating effects their rampage will have on the community.
  • Downer Ending: Considering the topic of the film, it's not surprising at all.
  • Egging: Andre and Cal egg house of Brad Huff, although the original plan was to egg his car.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Andre and Cal apologize to their parents for their actions in their second to last tape.
  • Evil Gloating: Andre and Cal gloat as they prepare to shoot the other students.
  • Expy: Andre was clearly inspired by Eric Harris: an intense, driven, militaristic boy with anger issues and a grandiose sense of purpose who dubs his petty vandalism acts "missions". Eric was also fond of German and liked to pepper his writings with German phrases, while Andre and his father are shown to be German speakers.
    • Just like Andre was inspired by Eric, the depressive, seemingly gentle Cal was inspired by Dylan Klebold. Like Dylan, Cal outwardly appears to be the follower and sees the plan as a way to commit a meaningful suicide and is therefore more lackadaisical about it. Their roles even switch during the massacre much like Eric and Dylan's did, with Andre becoming more focused and quiet and Cal becoming vocally terrifying.
  • Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon: Cal, with his bright blond hair and boyish looks. Andre even teases him about it.
  • Foreshadowing: The teenagers drop hints that only the audience, who is aware of their plan, can comprehend. For example, in the graveyard episode, Cal jokingly says that he has an evil inside which he locks away and keeps from everyone.
    • The very first mission the boys do is to egg Brad Huff's car. But since his car isn't there, they change their plans and instead egg his house. This mirrors how the boys change the date of the massacre to May Day when they're unable to launch the attack on a day where it's zero degrees outside.
  • Found Footage Films: The whole film is based on the videos made by Cal and Andre, with the exception of the shooting itself, which is shown from the high school security cameras.
  • Freudian Excuse: Andre and Cal indicate that the massacre is due to the bullying they've gone through at school.
  • The Ghost: Brad Huff, the Jerk Jock that the two shooters hate the most, never appears on screen.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: The shooting takes place on May Day. Andre and Cal tried averting this by placing the massacre on the first day of the year where it would be zero degrees outside, but postpone it to May Day because Andre is sick on the one day it's zero degrees.
  • I Call It "Vera": "I call it Malayna." This is a reference to Eric Harris calling his shotgun Arlene.
  • Improv: The actors were encouraged to improvise throughout the filming of the movie.
  • Jerk Jock: Brad, one of the students whom the main characters hate the most.
  • Karma Houdini: The main characters think Jerk Jock Brad Huff is one because he drinks and drives all the time and gets pulled over quite often, and yet never loses his license.
  • Meaningful Name: Andre's last name is Kriegman, which is German for "man of war". Calvin's last name is Gabriel, which could be a reference to his angelic appearance.
  • Murder-Suicide: Andre and Cal kill themselves after gunning down a dozen of their classmates.
  • New Media Are Evil / Murder Simulators: Defied. Andre and Cal burn all their movies, games, and books, because they know that their massacre will be blamed on their choice of media instead of themselves. They want Zero Day to be their own plan and nobody else's.
  • Nietzsche Wannabe:
    Cal: We're all animals.
  • One-Way Trip: Cal is fully aware that he's going to leave the school in a black body bag. Andre does not share this view in the beginning, but later realizes there is no way they can escape.
  • Point of No Return: Andre jokingly says "Shit, now we have to do it" after he and Cal burn all their games, movies, and books.
  • The Power of Friendship: In a twisted way, the shooting would never have happened if Andre and Cal hadn't have been friends. In their final tape, Andre and Cal mention that they wouldn't have been able to do it without the other.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The two perpetrators are opposites in terms of looks and personality, with Andre being the red oni and Cal the blue one. Even their portraits are color-coded as such.
  • Revenge: The gunmen's desire for revenge appears to stem from the fact that they were bullied, although to what extent is never shown aside from a short clip at the beginning.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The film was inspired by the famous Harris/Klebold basement tapes. It contains certain similar scenes, such as when the main characters go over their arsenal or when they go to target practice.
    • During target practice, one of the minor characters says that Cal is a natural. To his comment, Andre adds the words natural selection, which Eric Harris, one of the Columbine shooters, believed in a Social Darwinist variant of. The day of the massacre, Harris wore a white T-shirt with the words printed on it.
  • Samurai: Cal considers himself a kind of high school samurai.
  • Shout-Out: When Andre and Calvin are burning all their possessions, a copy of Half-Life and Lord of the Flies are prominently featured.
    • When Andre and Cal are looking over the guns Andre's father owns, Andre refers to one of the revolvers as a "Dirty Harry gun".
    • Andre brings a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles doll to shoot during target practice.
  • Suicide by Cop: Averted. Andre contemplates doing this, but is talked out of it by Cal.
  • Teens Are Monsters: The shooters themselves.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: There are implications that Andre is functioning this way to Cal. Cal's friend Rachael notes that whenever Andre and him are together, Cal starts acting like Andre.
  • Video Wills: The final tape recorded by the main characters can be seen as this.
  • Villains Out Shopping: Various scenes show the boys (mostly Cal) doing mundane things with friends and family, such as getting braces removed or going to parties, presumably to drive home the point that these two could be anyone.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The main characters claim that they're going to go to their school and kill as many fellow students as they can in order to give a wake-up call to the community and to teach people what they should value. At one point, Andre defines that as the most respectful and caring thing someone could do.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Andre and Cal make a big deal about the pipe bombs they're building, even giving a how-to guide on screen. When the massacre happens, there are no bombs, which is never explained.


Example of: