Zoo is an extraordinary glimpse into the life of a seemingly normal Seattle family man whose secret sexual appetites led to his shocking death. Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Robinson Devor (Woman Chaser Police Beat) the ... more »film explores the ensuing media coverage and public outcry that uncovered a secret community of zoophiles who call themselves "zoos." This expressionistic rendering of how apparently upstanding citizens banded together and videotaped their journey into the most taboo realms of behavior reveals the enormous gulf between what we appear to be and who we really are.System Requirements:Running Time: 76 minutesFormat: DVD MOVIE Genre: DOCUMENTARIES/MISC. Rating: NR UPC: 821575552653 Manufacturer No: TF-55265« less
"Devor has created an aesthetic masterpiece with this film, which I first saw at Sundance this year. Don't let the debate over the subject matter impact your decision to watch this film. It is too weird and beautiful to focus on such a hollow point. I'd recommend it to anyone who wants a good introduction to the Gonzo Filmaking that is sweeping the documentary world."
More David Lynch than Michael Moore
Ty Arthur | 01/06/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Many people were probably very angry upon reaching the end of Zoo when they realized that they had not just watched a documentary, they had watched an art house film deceptively packaged as a documentary. Zoo eschews all standards of documentary filming such as factual content or video interviews, and instead strives to amaze viewers with flashy cinematography, a haunting musical score, and existential self-referential segments that have little or no connection with the subject matter of the documentary. The potential audience for this film should be warned ahead of time that it provides few solid facts about the events in question, sheds no new light on the subject of bestiality, and fails to provide any insight into why human beings would choose to make love with animals.
Zoo is nominally about the events leading up to Kenneth Pinyan's death due to a perforated colon when he engaged in anal intercourse with an Arabian stallion on videotape, as well as the individuals in Pinyan's life who encouraged or were at least indifferent to his interest in bestiality. The word "nominally" may be giving Zoo too much credit, as it never even provides Pinyan's name, instead solely using his online moniker "Mr. Hands". None of the individuals associated with Pinyan, from the group of people who identify themselves as living the zoo lifestyle that he met with regularly to engage in acts of bestiality, to his ex-wife and child, or even the police and prosecutors involved in the aftermath of his death, are ever shown on screen. Director Robinson Devor choose to use actors to create reenactments of events coupled with the occasional voiceover from audio interviews with a scant few people willing to talk about the issue. These audio tracks and reenactments do not even constitute the bulk of the film, which would have been acceptable if they gave any decent information. The vast majority of Zoo is simply long trailing shots of scenery or people matched with odd color schemes or eerie music. If these non-essential segments were all edited out, Zoo's runtime would be cut down from 80 minutes to somewhere around 30 minutes. There is no denying that Devor has a great talent for camera work and editing, but his talent is not suited to making documentaries.
Devor is so obsessed with producing a specific mood and theme, to the complete detriment of the "plot", that he might as well be directing an Italian giallo. Halfway through the film the actor who portrays a police officer is shown in front of an entirely white background while he talks about his reaction to being asked to act in the film that he is currently acting in. Occasionally throughout this monologue the screen flashes black, leaving a white ghost trail of the actor's silhouette. This sort of ploy crosses the line from artsy to self indulgent, especially considering that the monologue has only the most tenuous of connections to Pinyan or the zoo lifestyle. Perhaps Devor was trying to show that a subject as bizarre as animal love and the men who would risk potential death to take part in it could not successfully be explained by a straight forward exposition of events, but instead required a broader look at people and their environments in general that requires multiple viewings to really sink in.
Looking for an avant garde or artsy film to blow your mind with odd camera angles and off the wall color schemes? Look no further than Zoo. Those who actually wanted to learn something about Kenneth Pinyan or the mindset of people who would engage in such deviant acts can pass on this one."
Could have been much more substantial
Viva | So. Cal. | 09/27/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"If they hadn't spent so much footage on seemingly endless tracking shots of highways and byways, the filmmakers could have gone more into depth as to what causes bestiality urges in some people, the online communities they are involved in, and more. As it stands, the documentary is not very insightful in the long run. It feels as if it's only the first chapter in a series that will probably not be continued. "
Don't Go There
Rocky Raccoon | Boise, ID | 09/28/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I've always thought there had to be more. Ever since the breaking news of Kenneth Pinyan's death, I have never liked the treatment his story was given. Either the object of tasteless jokes or scathing condemnation, his death has left a void that needed to be filled. Mostly, famed director Robinson Devor's documentary, 'Zoo,' doesn't do much to fill that void, but maybe no documentary can.
Mostly a reenactment, 'Zoo' traces back the account by actors who go to the facility where guests would engage in bestiality with stallions at a stable just outside of Seattle. Hooking up via the anonymity of the Internet, Pinyan (bka "Mr. Hands") and others from many regions joined up to spend time with one of the prized horses. Using eerie, low-ebbed synthesizer music, the film has a lurid quality as it unveils alienated men who bond through tequila and space exploration videos, making their way later solo to pair off with horses often in the middle of the night. Much of the photography is meant to touch on the aesthetics of the environs and equestrian beauty, but the analysis of the human aftermath is few and far between. One of the better aspects touches on the profile of the men: Varying in socio-economic and religious backgrounds, all of them seem tragically alone.
Much of the footage focuses on Pinyan who died one night after an encounter ruptured his colon. As the news headlines flashed across, it became one of those tragic, novelty human interest stories. Devor survey's some of those reactions. Anyone from CNN to Rush Limbaugh is given space, but then they go to some witnesses. Part of the testimony is about the behavior of the key people; some of the rest of the testimony has experts going over evidence of alleged abuse to the horses.
While I usually think it is the execution rather than the subject matter that wins for a documentary, I was looking for more insight. In place of so many animal experts analyzing the alleged abuse to the stallions in a nonconsensual setup, it would have been better to have psychologists analyze the human situation. Besides retracing the events before his death, they show the incremental steps as charges came to the fore by law enforcement who didn't have anti-bestiality laws in place in the state of Washington. As the stable manager relates, some people came by dropping religious "tracks" at his doorstep. The best scene is when the stable manager (played by an actor) opens up and honestly admits his inner thoughts after the whole incident. As much as I love animals, I must confess, I couldn't understand their emphasis on the animals' potential post trauma. If I lived near there, I would have left a pie on his doorstep, instead of a track, coaxing and encouraging them back to the human race.
While it isn't fair to expect "Just the facts ma'am," the presentation leaves some huge, gaping holes. "
A Strange Tail
Amos Lassen | Little Rock, Arkansas | 12/29/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
A Strange Tail
If any of you remember the 2005 incident in Enumclaw, Washington about the man who died after having sex with the horse, you will, no doubt, remember how the media treated the story. "Zoo" is a docudrama about that very incident. Mr. Hands, as he is called in the film was an engineer for Boeing and a divorced father of a young son who used his weekends to escape his daily routine and from a suffocating life style. It is only natural to think that a movie dealing with this subject matter would shock but that is not the case with "Zoo". It is somewhat poetic as it follows the death of Mt. Hands and instead of focusing on the issue of bestiality and the shock that usually accompanies it, it looks at the condition of human nature and what makes us who and what we are. It is a film filled with imagery that softens the story of animal lovers and it is a beautifully photographed film with a haunting and beautiful soundtrack. It is a very slick looking film that tells about those people who desire sex with animals. The film heavily uses a play on light which is used effectively and this is in direct contrast to the subject matter presented. The movie manages to blur the line between light and dark and what is the most shocking aspect of the film is that it presents the idea that it is really not so hard to accept love for what it is and to do this is to accept that it is possible for humans to love animals. I found myself, at some point, sympathizing with the animal lovers. The deed is not what shocks--what shocks is our compassion. The film simply shocks in a different way. Interviewing people from a Seattle farm where a group of men get away from everyday life and engage in sex with animals was an interesting aspect of the film. We see how dangerous an act like this is especially when Mr. Hands died because of an intestinal bleeding because a horse had entered too far up his body. These guys are a strange group of people--they seem to truly love their animals. It was difficult to hear one say that he loves his horse as much as someone else would love their wife or child. They did not go deeper into this thought and so we do not know what else turns them on. This brings about several questions--are they gay or straight? What kind of animals turn them on? What about a horse is sexually appealing? There are many questions that remain unanswered. The nature of the lifestyle is not discussed but we do learn a bit about the people involved in it. They are presented as people living in a world in which they do not fit. We see them as regular guys talking about regular things. The cinematography of muted colors makes us feel that we are watching something forbidden (which we are) and the soundtrack makes us feel we are watching something of beauty. A taboo subject is bought forward and we are almost forced into re-examining any preconceived notions we may have. It is a look at a community of isolated individuals who gather together to engage in an activity that they consider natural but is at odds with the rest of the world. We hear voices boy we get only one person speaking directly to the camera, a representative of "Hope for Horses". The film does not take sides. It does, however, empathize with the humanity of the participants who, for whatever reason, prefer to engage in anonymous sex without the emotional baggage of a relationship. Given the subject matter, this is an excellent film. It could have easily have been sensational and disgusting but it comes across as a sincere look at a complicated issue. This is one film that thinking people should want to see. "