Zoo (18)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner28/05/2008

Two out Five stars
Running time: 80 mins

Disturbing subject matter aside, this is a difficult film to watch, thanks to a low-key, defiantly non-sensational approach that eventually becomes both dull and monotonous.

What's it all about?
Directed by Robinson Devor, Zoo takes a look at the notorious Enumclaw horse incident of 2005, when a man known as Mr Hands was delivered anonymously to a hospital and later died of acute internal bleeding. A subsequent investigation revealed that his injuries were the result of sexual activity with a horse and that Mr Hands had belonged to a group of zoophiles who gathered together to discuss, perform and record sexual activity with animals.

However, at the time, bestiality was not a crime in Washington State (it is now), so the only charges that were brought were charges of animal cruelty (although the horse involved was later gelded, which seems a little at odds with the complaint about animals not being able to give consent).

The Good
Thankfully, Zoo is not nearly as Channel 5 as it sounds – there's no pixilated or grainy bestiality footage, for example. Instead, Devor shoots in an enigmatic style using a combination of audio testimony from actual participants and dramatic reconstructions using scenery shots and actors delivering monologues (John Paulsen plays the unfortunate Mr Hands); indeed, the only person who actually appears on camera for an interview is horse rescuer Jenny Edwards (of the Hope for Horses rescue society).

To Devor's credit, the film is remarkably non-judgmental and instead seeks to understand the impulse behind zoophilia, though it's not entirely convincing.

The Bad
The film's main problem is that its reliance on audio testimony means that it's often difficult to differentiate between all the various voices. It also doesn't help that a lot of the interviews are delivered in a flat monotone, with the result that the film quickly becomes dull. In addition, Devor's overly arty approach occasionally seems a little incongruous, particularly as it keeps you at a distance from the people involved.

Worth seeing?
In short, Zoo is an artfully made, but ultimately disappointing documentary that is frequently difficult to listen to.

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Content updated: 18/12/2017 07:03

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