Story: Josh (Jett Klyne) has always been a little introverted, so his mother Beth (Keegan Connor Tracy) was happy to see him make a friend, even if it was an imaginary one. His new pal is Z and the two forge a quick bond, one deeper than Beth can grasp. At first, Josh seems happier with someone to play with, but his behavior starts to take some troubling turns soon after Z first appears. As his actions escalate, Beth is unsure of how to proceed, since he blames of all of his behavior on Z. Stretched thin between her work and care for multiple family members, Beth tries every option to help her son, from therapy to medication to even enabling, with no success. Is there some way she can reach Josh and is Z just an imaginary friend or something far more sinister?
Entertainment Value: Z is a solid, if unremarkable horror yarn that is driven by a creepy kid narrative. The story is fine, but follows predictable and well worn paths, never really injecting new blood into the concept, content to play it safe throughout. I would have loved to have seen some effort put into at least attempts to throw some fresh twists in, but Z doesn’t get that bold. But it does cover the basics well and is solidly made in all aspects. The production values are good and the cast is up to the task, so it doesn’t lack in any areas. At the same time, it never rises above the middle of the pack for this genre. Z does what it needs to do, then rests in that comfortable zone of familiar cinema, which left me unsatisfied. In other words, the movie doesn’t make any real mistakes, but it never takes any risks either, so it is a well crafted, but overall, forgettable experience. I did appreciate the way Z is represented in the movie and there are some chilly, atmospheric moments, just not enough. In the end, I would give Z a mild recommendation to horror fans looking for a brisk, solid flick.
The cast here is quite good and bring the serious, somber tone the material needs, which makes sure camp is minimal and atmosphere is as intended. Stephen McHattie is likely the best known member of the cast and while his role is a supporting one, he turns in solid work in Z. He also will bring in some genre fans who might have otherwise overlooked the picture, which is always good. I know fans will wish he had more screen time, but he makes the most of a smaller role here. The main star is Keegan Connor Tracy, who carries the movie well and is able to reign in a character that could have easily gone over the top. Tracy makes Beth a likable, relatable lead and avoids the over the top hysterics might have brought to this role. Of course, I don’t mind the camp and melodrama, but in this case, Tracy’s grounded approach was the right choice. The cast also includes Jett Klyne, Chandra West, Sara Anning, and Sean Rogerson.