Screener Squad: Zola

Zola Movie Review


In 2015, Detroit waitress and part-time stripper Aziah “Zola” King posted an epic 148 tweet thread about a wild two days in her life. What started as a quick trip to Florida to make some cash turned into an out-of-control spiral of sex trafficking, violence, strange characters, and weird turns of events, all written in hyperbolic all caps slang, and punctuated with dark humor and emojis. Zola’s story quickly went viral and soon, Rolling Stone published the article “Zola Tells All: The Real Story Behind the Greatest Stripper Saga Ever Tweeted” to verify her seemingly improbable tale. Director Janicza Bravo (“Lemon”) and her Tony nominated co-writer Jeremy O. Harris (“Slave Play”) manage to make Zola’s story feel credible, even while playing up its over-the-top aspects, and presenting scenes in a highly stylized way that mimics the way people communicate through social media. One night, Zola (Taylour Paige) meets Stefani (Riley Keough) a manipulative stripper who speaks with a pronounced Blaccent. The very next day, Stefani invites Zola to a trip to Florida where they will make some easy money stripping. Zola accepts and soon finds herself trapped in a car with the motormouthed Stefani, her weak-willed boyfriend Derek (Nicholas Braun) and her intimidating “roommate” X (Colman Domingo) who is actually Stefani’s pimp. Things go from bad to worse and Zola has to use her wits to extricate herself from the toxic people around her and the wild situations she finds herself in. Our reviewers Chad, Lewayne, and Marco had misgivings about a movie based on a series of tweets, but Zola’s bleak and funny tale won them over. It’s a good thing you can listen to their review, because it’s going to take more than 140 characters to tell you what they thought about the movie.


DIRECTED BY: Janicza Bravo

STARRING: Taylour Paige, Riley Keough, Nicholas Braun, Ari’el Stachel, Colman Domingo, Jason Mitchell, Ts Madison, Nelcie Souffrant, Nasir Rahim, Jarquale Stewart, Shovon Ahmed




Chad Halvorsen (Screener Squad)

Chad Halvorsen currently resides in Milwaukee, WI, where he produces and edits commercials, films, and everything in between. He was always a fan of film/television growing up, spending days in the Summer, making (terrible) home movies with his brothers. Little did he know that passion would carry on into adulthood. Since 2006, Chad has worked for several agencies in various departments. Shooting, producing, editing, production management, directing, and when forced to, writing copy. In 2015, Chad decided to take the big leap and become a freelancer. Since then, he’s produced content for Lyft, AT&T, Target, and Discovery Network. His passion lies in entertaining people, making them feel better, even for a moment. All the pain and suffering of this business is worth it, if even just one person views his work. Chad is a frequent podcaster, most notably posing as a co-host for the podcast “The Film Illogical Society.”



Lewayne White (Screener Squad)

Lewayne’s earliest memories are of watching movies and reading comics, which instilled in him a sense of wonder, a vivid imagination, and unrealistic expectations. It also means he spends a lot of time watching movies, writing scripts for them, and trying to get them made. He lives in the middle of middle America after landing there as a child, and has remained there mainly because he hates packing.




Marco Noyola (Digital Noise, Highly Suspect Reviews, Screener Squad, Audio Editor)

By day, Marco is a mild-mannered office worker, but by night he is a mild-mannered movie watcher. He does other mild-mannered stuff too.

“You don’t need to follow me. You don’t need to follow anybody!”




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