David Fincher’s edge-of-the-seat thriller ZODIAC recreates history so brilliantly, it deserves an ‘A’.

In and around San Francisco throughout the 1960s and 1970s, there was a serial killer on the loose who called himself ‘the ZODIAC’. He taunted the police and the press alike with cryptic letters and signs left at his crime scenes. Even when the authorities thought they had a viable suspect, the person in question goaded them with opaque statements such as:

“I am not the Zodiac. And if I were, I certainly wouldn’t tell you.”

A perfect scenario then for director David Fincher whose masterful 2007 edge-of-the-seat thriller followed his other serial killer masterpiece that defined a genre, Se7en. ZODIAC brings together three very different men who all became obsessed with catching the eponymous killer: there’s Jake Gyllenhaal‘s Robert Graysmith, a quirky cartoonist and puzzle solver; Robert Downey Jr.’s Paul Avery, a somewhat unconventional journalist; and Mark Ruffalo’s Dave Toschi, a dedicated San Francisco policeman.

With Fincher’s hallmark meticulous attention to detail, we watch absolutely gripped by these horrific events. Shot impeccably by cinematographer Harris Savides and with a score by the great David Shire, Fincher has once again assembled the most fantastic cast for this brilliant re-telling of history. Alongside the three terrific actors already mentioned, there’s Anthony Edwards, Elias Koteas, Dermot Mulroney, Chloe Sevigny, Brian Cox, John Carroll Lynch, Donal Logue, John Terry, Philip Baker Hall, Zach Grenier, Adam Goldberg and James Le Gros. Phew!

In the Guardian’s regular series on how history is presented on film, ZODIAC is brilliantly deconstructed, analysed and applauded. Have a read…

why ZODIAC ticks all the boxes