In 2005, a Boeing engineer who will only be known as his internet name "Mr Hands" in this documentary was taken to hospital in the small hours of the morning after an unusual incident on a farm. The doctors worked out he had serious internal injuries, and the man who brought him in and had fled led the police investigation to realise that Mr Hands had recently had sex with a horse. The media were quick to descend on this quiet Washington area, and uncovered a community of so-called zoophiles who had sexual relations with animals, in this case horses, and as bestiality was not illegal in this state, there was nothing the authorities could do to prosecute.
Well, those are the basic facts, but here director Robinson Devor, with co-writer Charles Mudede, tried to dig deeper than a simple recounting of what happened and do something that hardly anyone, not even those who participated in this perversion, could do, and understand precisely what it was that made these men carry out these acts. Was it animal cruelty if the male animals involved had to be aroused before the men could be sodomised by them? As one clip of a radio commentator says, there must have been some kind of consent.
Yet an interviewee points out that stallions will pretty much mate with anything given the opportunity, it's part of their biological imperative, and this could easily apply to the zoophiles as well. It should be made clear that Devor doesn't use actual footage of the acts occuring, as although these men took video cameras with them to film their exploits, none of it is shown here. Instead he implements an eerie, dreamlike series of reconstructions of the lives of those involved, stopping short of anything too explicit as far as the imagery goes.
Accompanying these reconstructions are interviews with two of the zoophiles implicated, who express bafflement that what they see as an act of deeply felt love and respect could make them "bad men", and experts, some of whom investigated the case, who make it quite plain why what these men did was so wrong. Devor doesn't condemn them outright, as if to allow us some kind of insight into how their minds worked, but hearing them explain that they were not hurting the horses and in fact gave them the best possible care will make most viewers think of abusers rationalising their actions by saying they know their victims far better than the rest of us.
As for the man who died, there are those who may well take an amused stance on his death, but we are never allowed to forget this was a human being who left behind an ex-wife and a son to suffer the consequences of his, at best, embarrassing actions. For this reason there's a sorrowful mood to Zoo, as we see that he was doing this because of a dissatisfaction and disappointment with his life that drove him away from normal human relationships to what he and many of his fellow bestialists took to be a non-judgemental and fulfilling relationship. Of course, it's possible to be close to an animal, to love it and the affection it shows you, but the majority of us would agree that fucking it is going much too far, and not something any reasonable person would ever contemplate. The trouble with these men is that something in their mind's wiring confused love with lust, which can happen to many: just not with a different species. Music by Paul Matthew Moore.