A searing indictment of corporations, institutions and governmental agencies involved in the slaughter of horses, Katia Louise’s impassioned pic amasses impressive documentation, visual and testimonial, of systemic mistreatment of the animals, illegal and fraudulent practices regulating their sale, and the very real possibility of their extinction in the wild. Unfortunately, Louise piles up arguments in a constant, disorganized stream, placing well-researched, shocking statistics alongside tabloid-like allegations of, say, slaughterhouse workers raping women. Clearer, more thoughtful editing would have greatly enhanced the effectiveness of this sometimes-revelatory docu, opening Dec. 7 in limited release.
“Saving America’s Horses” contrasts shots of noble, beautiful, galloping animals with clips of their starved, abused and sometimes dead counterparts, the majority of which were young and healthy when sold. But the pic overplays its hand by layering this already potent imagery with schmaltzy songs. The motley collection of horse advocates assembled — including celebrity writers attesting to patterns of exploitation, Native Americans to whom horses are sacred, veterinarians decrying corrupt colleagues, and assorted actors, horse trainers, jockeys and whistleblowers — provide a wide range of viewpoints all trumpeting the same message.