“ZOO”–a strange tail (sic)


A Strange Tail (sic)

Amos Lassen

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.

  1. Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: