Robinson Devor‘s "Zoo" is the most beautiful, most unexpectedly prurient, and, yes, only documentary about zoophilia we’ve ever seen. Anyone looking for sordid details about how, exactly, a human being has sex with an Arabian stallion, or how one particular man ended up dying in a Seattle emergency room of a perforated colon, will likely be disappointed. Devor â€” whose two previous films, "Police Beat" and "The Woman Chaser," were both narratives â€” relies mainly on reenactments that play out alongside the voiceovers of the dead man’s zoophile friends and the woman who was charged with finding a new owner for his horse after the incident. Some of those involved appear as themselves; others don’t want to be seen and are played by actors, and one, a divorced Seattle professional who went by the name of "Mr. Hands," is dead.
The reenactments are hectically, sometimes oppressively beautiful. The Enumclaw incident, as it’s been labeled, took place outside Seattle in the verdant farmlands of Washington, a state in which bestiality is not illegal, and Mount Rainier looms like a fever hallucination in the background as the zoophiles gather on a farm owned by one of the community members. Often seeming more knitting club than gathering of sexual deviants, the community is made up of various members who retreat to the farm on the weekends for the haven as much as the sex. They have potluck dinners and make blended drinks. One member refers to it as a "classless society," and that sense of unity doesn’t seem exaggerated. Nor do the often flowery sentiments expressed by the members, who see their interactions with the animals as true relationships, speaking of rarefied love and connection in chaste tones. Devor gets his Herzog on a bit â€” he chooses to focus on the romanticized aspects of zoophilia to what is in the end the detriment of the film, which begins to feel euphemistic in its avoidance of physicality. In the interests of avoid easy sensationalism and of his admirable and aggressive humanism, Devor avoids the sexual aspect of zoophilia more than zoophiles themselves would likely deem fair â€” they, after all, may feel love, but they also made considerably earthier home movies. One, labeled "Big Dick," is retrieved by the police and watched, and the camera circles the four shocked viewers and the flickering screen as the we hear a soundtrack of grunts and groans. It’s a coy glimpse into another world â€” but then, what world did we just watch a film about? Forgive us, but we could have done with more horse fucking.
"Zoo" will be released by ThinkFilm sometime this year.
+ "Zoo" (Sundance)