Zoo (Devor, 2007)

Robinson Devor’s debut film Police Beat combines a lyrical and poetic aesthetic with a fascinating story of alienation and lost love. Now with Zoo, a flowery and almost unwatchable documentary on the accidental death of a man who’s demise was caused by having anal sex with a horse, Devor once again uses a hypnotic approach bridging form with the taboo subject matter. This time however, the result is an absurdly bad series of reenactments (not of the sexual acts thank God) and ridiculous voice-over by anonymous men attempting to explain their deeds. Zoo not only fails as a piece of non-fiction, it’s even worse as a character study. The film remains vague, elliptical, and pretentious when dealing with it’s subjects, leaving a sour taste of manipulation behind. I’m tired of filmmakers (yes you Wes Anderson too) thinking that just because a film feels visually complex it lets them off the hook in the story department. If there’s no heart and/or resonance underneath the glossy “poetic” surface, then there’s no point to making the film in the first place. The audience has to have some sort of dialogue with the material, and Devor’s soulless film pushes away the substance and context for shock value and sensationalism.

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