EMAV Film Review: Brandon Christensen’s 'Z' Offers Suburban Suspense

Las Vegas-based filmmaker Brandon Christensen’s first feature, 2017’s “Still/Born,” was about a mother dealing with a malevolent entity out to get her newborn child. At first glance, it seems like Christensen has just moved on to the next creepy-kid age bracket with his new feature, “Z,” but “Z” effectively shifts focus from its familiar initial set-up to a deeper examination of generational guilt. The theme from “Still/Born” that “Z” most strongly picks up on is the challenge and strain of motherhood, and Christensen dedicates the movie to his wife Alissa, the mother of his children.

Keegan Connor Tracy is excellent as Elizabeth Parsons, the mother whose life is thrown into chaos when her eight-year-old son Josh (Jett Klyne) starts playing with an imaginary friend he calls Z. As the movie begins, Josh is a happy, energetic kid who carpools to school with his best friend and loves his parents. But once Z shows up, Josh becomes sullen, withdrawn and prone to angry outbursts. He attributes all of his bad behavior to Z, and soon escalates from name-calling to shocking acts of violence. Elizabeth becomes convinced that Z is an actual sinister presence in their home, and not just a product of Josh’s overactive imagination.

Keegan Connor Tracy is 'Elizabeth Parsons' in "Z".