Year Released: 2006
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 80 minutes
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How can a film about a guy getting fucked to death by a horse lack a sense of humor? I understand, in an objective way, how life is precious, death is tragic, proper respect due, blah, blah, blah… but the guy died because a horse humped the Hell out of him. If you’re going to ever laugh at death, that’s a good place to start.
To bring you up to speed, “Zoo” is a documentary based on the story of a bunch of “Zoophiles” who would get together at a farm in Washington State to get drunk, socialize, and then have relations with farm animals. Oh, and they’d videotape their exploits too. Then, on July 2nd, 2005, one of their group is rushed to the hospital, eventually dying from a perforated colon after a particularly rough night of fucked-by-horse-ery. The authorities then descend upon the farm, videos are found and the farm fetish world is exposed.
Instead of seeing the humor in the experience, “Zoo” tackles the event, and the small community of animal lovers, as if they’re a group bent on curing cancer or reversing global warming. Every moment ponderous, every word deep and important… nevermind they all congregate at a farm in Washington State to have their fun with horses. With a score that sedates and whispers “pretentious coma” while actors and non-actors re-enact events leading up to and after the death, “Zoo” fails in every way imaginable.
The entire film feels like an art student’s overly dramatic “Rescue 911” episode. I understand why there’s a movement in documentary films currently to break out of the “interview a talking head” format, and make things feel more narrative, but “Zoo” takes it all too far, to the point where they should’ve just dropped the documentary pretensions altogether and just made the artsy, “based on a true story” narrative straight-up. The melding of the forms does neither justice. Perhaps if it were actors, with full scenes and, I don’t know, dialogue (not voice over) that played out in front of us, it would’ve succeeded in being a more compelling portrait. But as a doc, it just lacks any sense of perspective or levity. Well, purposeful levity, that is.
There is one scene, a traditional talking head moment, where the actor who plays a cop in the re-enactment talks about some of the experiences he’s had with death in his life, and how death is tragic and… it’s so pointlessly obvious and unnecessary, so trivial what this guy is saying that you’ve got to wonder why it’s in there. If it’s genuine on the filmmakers’ part, then they’re too far gone with the self-importance of their piece to be saved. If it’s not genuine, then why not use this absurdist bend of humor that presents itself more often, give the audience something to enjoy?
The only element of this documentary with any strength is the cinematography. It’s brilliant, and deserving of a better film that would do it justice. In the context of “Zoo,” you’re usually too busy trying not to fall asleep due to the score, or trying not to scream “lighten up” at the people onscreen, to really allow the visuals the proper respect they deserve.
A guy got fucked to death by a horse. Two roads diverged in a wood. The filmmakers took the wrong path, and I’m the one with the sore ass…
Posted on March 12, 2007 in Reviews by Mark Bell
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- SUMMER OF STINK 2005
- FAR AS THE EYE CAN SEE
- THE BIG RACE
- BLACKBALLED: THE BOBBY DUKE STORY
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