Ontario Moviegoers Were Tricked into Thinking an Animal Rights Doc Was a Halloween Horror Film

A group of moviegoers in Kitchener, Ont. got an unexpected dose of reality last Thursday when they showed up for a free screening of a film billed as “possibly the scariest movie ever created.”

Instead of a gruesome, Halloween-themed horror flick, the 200 moviegoers were shown the 2005 documentary “Earthlings.” The American doc uncovers the horrific treatment of animals in everything from pet stores to the fashion world.

The trick was the work of the Kitchener Ontario Animal Liberation Alliance (KOALA), an animal rights organization.

The thing is, in the minds of the organizers, it wasn’t technically a “trick.”

As the Canadian Press reports, KOALA member Malcolm Klimowicz says the graphic footage in the movie is frightening by any measure. He said that the true horror of the film comes from the fact that it depicts real events.

Well, that technicality didn’t go over well with half of the moviegoers, who walked out within the first half hour.

People began to leave about 20 minutes after the film started playing.

Not surprisingly, many slammed the group for false advertising and for their promise of a good time suggested in promo material.

“I appreciate what you’re doing, but to fool people into your cause is really wrong,” said one filmgoer in a video from KOALA that chronicled the group’s movie experiment.


But, according to Klimowicz, the group delivered exactly what was promised.

“People came expecting to see a terrifying horror movie, but it’s terrifying in the sense that it was real life,” he said in a telephone interview, according to the Canadian Press.

The documentary – directed by Shaun Monson and narrated by Academy Award nominee Joaquin Phoenix (just one celeb to lend his voice to the animal rights cause) – is jam-packed with secret footage of animal treatment in various industries.

And it’s pretty gruesome, with images that are impossible to shake, like pigs being drowned in boiling water, cattle heading to slaughter, and abandoned pigs meeting their death in a gas chamber.

While it’s a pretty graphic experience to sit through, it’s even more intense when you’re not prepared for it (especially if you had a burger or pepperoni pizza for lunch).

As both a consolation and a token of gratitude, audience members were not charged any money to see the film and were given vegan baked goods and gift cards if they sat through the film.

There was even a draw for a $200 cash prize.

According to KOALA, about 70 people did stay for the film and had more welcoming reactions to being tricked into watching the film. According to a video from KOALA on the experiment, some filmgoers praised the group for exposing them to issues and imagery they had not previously considered.

Klimowicz said KOALA was transparent about their plans when they reserved the theatre where the film was aired and the theatre did not respond to a request for comment.

He said the strategy was necessary to target a segment of the population who may not otherwise be exposed to discussions surrounding animal welfare.

“These industries really try to hide how animals are tortured and confined and treated and killed for food and things like that,” he said. “We brought to light what people don’t know.”

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