It might just be the reporter in me, but I was frustrated by Zoo. The film—a different sort of documentary, one that uses reenactments with both the real-life characters and actors—centers on what happened on an Enunclaw, Washington, horse farm one evening in July 2005. A Seattle-area Boeing engineer went to the farm, as he did with some regularity, to have sex with a horse while a friend videotaped. But this night ended differently: The man died of a perforated colon, exposing the underground world of the farm's zoophiles.
I'm familiar with the story—it nabbed all of the headlines in Seattle that summer (and Washington later outlawed bestiality, which shone another light on the situation). Mercury contributor Charles Mudede wrote an essay on the subject for our sister paper, The Stranger, and then went on to make the film with Robinson Devor.
But Zoo doesn't answer all of the questions that persisted for me. I wasn't curious about the mechanics of horse-on-man sex—and the film largely sidesteps that subject—but I did want to know more about the men who gathered at the farm, who professed to intimately love horses. Zoo, through interviews with some of the men, does strive to show the human side of these men, turning them from perverts into three-dimensional beings. But the film focuses more on the beauty and lyricism of the farm than on getting the entire story.
Instead of asking the tough questions, the filmmakers wrap the film in ambiguity—a tactic that worked well in their previous venture, the semi-fictionalized drama Police Beat. But here, with such a bizarre (and true) subject, it ultimately feels too shallow.