Zoo (2007)

Most movies can by summed up with a genre and a short one or two sentence description. While these short summaries wont necessarily tell viewers if they are going to like or dislike the movie, they will at least give them an idea of what is in store for them. Zoo, the 2007 documentary, tells the true story of a man (Mr. Hands) who died after having anal intercourse with a horse.

That should rule out about 99% of you.

And no, Im not kidding. Zoo delves into the world of Zoophiles, people who prefer relations with animals over ones with human beings. Specifically, the documentary covers a group of fellows who met via the Internet and migrated to Washington State. As of the time of the incident, Washington was one of around twenty states where bestiality is in fact legal.

Throughout the film, viewers meet characters with names such as The Happy Horseman, Coyote, and Mr. Hands, all fellows who made the trip to just outside of Seattle where they met with Mr. H., a ranch hand with access to horses. On a regular basis these seemingly normal people would make weekend trips to the ranch where they drank beer, danced, partied, chatted and ultimately had sexual relations with horses.

Although the film is presented as a documentary, Zoo contains no authentic footage of the actual participants from the actual meetings (thank goodness). While one or two of the original participants appear in the film, the majority of the people in the film are actors. Much of the film is peppered with audio taken from interviews with actual people. Because all the footage is new, it doesn’t have the look of the average documentary. Much of the film contains beautiful shots, occasionally making one forget about the darker subject at hand.

Surprisingly, my biggest complaint about Zoo wasn’t the subject matter but rather the films pacing. I could sum the entire film up in five minutes without leaving out a single detail. Many of the scenes are unnecessarily stretched out in length. I continually got the feeling that the filmmakers only ended up with 40 minutes worth of material, which was been stretched into an 80 minute runtime.

The films biggest hurdle, and one I’m not sure is ever completely overcome, is its inability to make viewers empathize with people who like to have sex with horses. Thats not to say it doesn’t try; multiple times it is explained that these people care for and actually feel as though they have a relationship with these animals, but I’m not sure 80 minutes is enough time for viewers to go from “eww” to “aww”. I’m not sure 80 million minutes would be enough time, to be honest.

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