Zoo

"Very Good"

Zoo Review


Making a film about something as sickeningly taboo as bestiality is risky, to say the least. Assume the filmmaker gets past the criticism of tackling such subject matter. Then he can revel in titillation and exploitation for widespread attention; or, he can attempt an artistic, less controversial execution and attract a more limited audience. With Zoo, writer-director Robinson Devor chooses the latter, creating a bizarre, moody entry that's part documentary, part drama.

You wouldn't think cinematic style would overwhelm such a powerful choice of topics, but that's the case. Borrowing liberally from the great Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line, The Fog of War), Devor has a spooky artistry and odd narrative approach, an avant-garde sense that practically hypnotizes. Zoo is full of carefully structured visuals, with actors often playing the roles of real people. The camera sweeps smoothly and deliberately across landscapes and along meandering roads. Players stand within well-composed images, the world seemingly in slow motion. It's peaceful and dreamlike, but frightening as hell -- an ideal presentation for a film about intimacy between humans and horses.

The story revolves around a small group of zoophiliacs, or people attracted to "relationships" with non-human mammals. One of the group, nicknamed "Mr. Hands" -- holy lord, could this get any creepier -- loses his life after a deviant connection with an equine. I mean, c'mon, he had it coming. Whoops, sorry.

Did he deserve to lose his life? Depends on who you talk to. The film traces the seemingly lonely lives of those who participate in zoophilia, but there's plenty of commentary from far more normal people. Those involved state their case for meaningful contact with horses, but they don't sound sold on their own bullshit. Instead, they sound confused and searching for rationale. You almost respect the honesty of one "zoo" who chalks it up to the constant sex drive of the human male.

Devor keeps all these people at a distance. Maybe it's a logistic solution since most wouldn't appear on camera, but it works. So instead of talking heads, we get eerie recreations. And the storytelling is distant as well, which, when it's repetitive, can make you question the film's purpose. But when something vital happens, its presentation is anything but conventional.

The demise of Mr. Hands (yuck) leads to an absolutely chilling final act, when a group travels to retrieve and save the animal before the "zoos" can step in. A walk through a freakish stable is as scary a steadicam shot as anything Kubrick pulled off in The Shining. When the shot eventually lands on a farmhand looking out beyond one of the stables, it's a classical visual within a seriously twisted context.

Those on the opposite side -- and let's be honest, that's nearly all of us -- view zoophilia on about the same level as child rape and abuse. Children cannot emotionally and physically offer consent, and neither can animals. But there seems to be something more instinctually disgusting about the whole thing, and I asked myself why. Answer: It's just unbelievably unnatural. Damn, do ultra-conservatives think about homosexuality the same way?



Zoo

Facts and Figures

Run time: 80 mins

In Theaters: Friday 30th May 2008

Distributed by: ThinkFilm

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 58%
Fresh: 28 Rotten: 20

IMDB: 5.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Peggy Case, Alexis Ferris

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

The latest adaptation of Agatha Christie's 83-year-old classic whodunit, this lavish, star-studded film is old-style...

Paddington 2 Movie Review

Paddington 2 Movie Review

The first Paddington movie in 2014 is already such a beloved classic that it's hard...

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

Everyone's back from last year's undemanding adult comedy, plus some starry new cast members, for...

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Filmmaker S. Craig Zahler brought a blast of offbeat creativity to the Western genre two...

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

Fans of the film In the Loop and the TV series Veep will definitely not...

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Set in northern Italy in the summer of 1983, this internationally flavoured drama is a...

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

The most riotously enjoyable Marvel movie yet, this action epic benefits hugely from the decision...

Advertisement
Breathe Movie Review

Breathe Movie Review

While this biopic has the standard sumptuous production values of a British period drama, it's...

The Snowman Movie Review

The Snowman Movie Review

With a cast and crew packed with A-list talent, this film seems like it should...

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.