In 2009, Dwayne Nelson murdered three young men in Yellowstone National Park, and promptly turned himself in and confessed to his crime.  Despite this confession, Nelson walked away a free man, due to a loophole in the American constitution.   Population Zero follows documentarian Julian Pinder’s quest for the truth as to just how a guilty man was able to walk free.

The real beauty of Population Zero is how effective it is if you go in knowing next to nothing about it.  So I’ll try to review it as best as possible, without really saying anything at all!

In Population Zero, directors Pinder and Adam Levins have created a beautiful piece of cinema.  Yellowstone is captured in epic glory, beautiful yet isolating in its vastness. Pinder and Levin’s use of imagery is both startling, and moving, be it the iconic bison being chased by a bear shot, or the chilling, grainy CCTV footage of Nelson approaching a rangers station to hand himself in.

Pinder himself appears on screen as our narrator, and is a natural in front of the camera.  Engaging, and fuelled with a passion to uncover the truth and achieve some kind of justice, he has us gripped, holding the audience in the palm of his hand as we watch the story unfold around us.

An incredibly effective first two thirds are let down slightly by a final third.  I don’t think it is unfair to say that Pinder and Levins get too cocky, moving away from the ‘less is more’ style that makes the beginning of this story so gripping, and so human.  If only someone had reigned the directors in at particular moments, they could have pulled off, with great ease, what they set out to do, and in doing so, would have created a near perfect piece of cinema.

Horror Channel Frightfest review: Population Zero
4.5Overall Score
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