Zoo: An Appreciation
Who are these men? The film never tells us. The poster bears the tagline: "we are not who we appear to be." But we are never told who these men are outside their shadow world of bestiality. The dead man, known only as Mr. Hands, is shown to be a family man with a wife and child, but we are told nothing about his outside life, or the lives of the other men. They are defined solely by their affinity for sex with animals. As such, the movie loses its chance to explore deeper themes of lonliness and alienation that it only hints it.
To his credit, Devor handles the subject well. The film was nicknamed the "horse-fucking movie" after its debut at the Sundance Film Festival, which is unfair. It is not a graphic film at all, despite the "MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY" warning emblazoned across the DVD cover. It is delicate and haunting, an eerie mood piece that displays a keen stylistic eye on the part of Devor. But it left me ultimately unsatisfied. At only 76 minutes long, it feels slight and unfulfilling, leaving vast oceans of material unexplored. We really know no more about these men than we did before. They have sex with horses - but where's the why, where's the debate? Zoo raises all kinds of interesting questions - the kind that make you examine and question beliefs of right and wrong. But it never explores them. It asks us to examine why we believe what we believe, but it never asks the same of its subjects. What we are left with is a beautiful and quietly unnerving film about a forbidden subject...that leaves us wishing there was more to it.
GRADE - **½