News tips and press releases may be sent to editor at All submissions become property of the Hollywood Investigator and deemed for publication without compensation unless otherwise requested. Name and contact information only withheld upon request. Prospective reporters should research our Bookstore.


About Us







Fine Arts


Media & Copyright


Public Square



War & Peace


Horror Film Aesthetics

Horror Film Festivals

Horror Film Reviews

Tabloid Witch Awards

Weekly Universe





by Thomas M. Sipos, managing editor [May 15, 2020]






[]  Horror films about reality TV shows, and the contestants who suffer on them, have been a staple since Halloween: Resurrection. In Human Zoo, the show is called Solitary Confinement.

Contestants are locked away in tiny cells, in solitary confinement. No windows. Just a mat to sleep on. A bucket for a toilet. A camera so viewers at home can watch. And every day, water and oatmeal. Contestants are told they can leave anytime, but then they forfeit the prize money. Last one out wins $2 million.

Human Zoo opens in a manner typical for the subgenre. Potential contestants are interviewed on camera by the producers. This introduces us to the characters. As usual, it's a disparate bunch. Cocky guys and sassy gals with shallow dreams for the prize money. A nerdy Asian. A badass black. A few desperate people with medical or financial difficulties.

These intros, and then some showers, take nearly a half hour. Then the contestants are locked in their rooms. And then nothing happens for the next 80 minutes. Nothing but people alone in their tiny cells. They yell. Scream. Cry. Hallucinate. Throw feces at the camera. And beg to be let out.

Surprise -- no one is being let out! Ever.

It eventually dawns on some contestants that they will never be released. That no one even knows where they are. Who is watching them on camera? Private voyeurs, the sort who watch snuff films? Maybe. Maybe not. Some contestants scream at the camera that this is not right. It's like caged animals in a zoo must feel.

Which might be the film's whole point. Human Zoo is tedious, dreary, distasteful, and maddeningly dull. Rarely qualities that filmmakers hope to evoke on screen. Yet I think that director and co-writer John E. Seymore is attempting a message here. He wants us to feel what caged zoo animals might be feeling. It's the sort of message that PETA fans will laud.

Can you feel the characters' boredom, frustration, outrage? Is that how you feel while while watching this turgid mess of film? Remember that the next time you gawk at caged animals in a zoo -- and be ashamed!


Unfortunately, while PETA fans might delight in seeing humans get their comeuppance, horror fans will be less enthralled. Human Zoo is not scary. Once locked away, no one is threatened, frightened, tormented, or killed. No one attempts an escape. None is possible. There is no drama. No story. We wait for something to happen. Nothing ever does. Just characters talking to themselves while going insane. No horror film about insanity has even been so mundane and uneventful.

"No, not oatmeal again! Not again!" screams one young woman as someone slides her daily meal through the slot. Well, I guess zoo animals would also welcome a little variety in their cuisine.

Human Zoo is not an especially well made film. Its production values are serviceable but crude. There are no beautiful compositions. Closed circuit cameras in the cells provide many of the shots, though we are sometimes treated to closeups. Lighting is harsh. The writing isn't much to write home about. Much of it seems improvised by the cast.


The acting is acceptable, but unexceptional. I looked forward to Human Zoo because its cast includes Trista Robinson. I first noticed her last year in the much better Queen of the Damned. I wanted to see more of her work. But this work was best left unseen.

Human Zoo appears to have had a very low budget. At least, there's no money apparent on screen. I've seen my share of shoddy, no-budget, horror films about reality TV shows. Within the Woods and Death on Demand were crude, crappy efforts. But at least they had entertainment value.

There is no fun in watching Human Zoo. I fast-forwarded through much of the caged characters' mundane ramblings. If Seymore wanted to make an insufferably dull film, to convey how animals might feel in zoos, mission accomplished. But if he wanted to do so while entertaining or thrilling us, then Human Zoo is a massive failure.


"Hollywood Investigator" and "" and "Tabloid Witch" and "Tabloid Witch Award" trademarks are currently unregistered, but pending registration upon need for protection against improper use. The idea of marketing these terms as a commodity is a protected idea under the Lanham Act. 15 U.S.C. s 1114(1) (1994) (defining a trademark infringement claim when the plaintiff has a registered mark); 15 U.S.C. s 1125(a) (1994) (defining an action for unfair competition in the context of trademark infringement when the plaintiff holds an unregistered mark). All content is copyright by unless otherwise noted.