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SXSW Review: Porno

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Boobs, balls, and blood

I love a good horror/comedy mashup like Porno, which debuted at SXSW this year, and when you splatter the screen with gore I'll probably love it even more. Take my glowing review of Snatchers, which also debuted at SXSW, as proof if you need it. But there is an art to it. The blood just can't be for blood's sake, the nudity can't just be for nudity's sake. We've got those things in spades these days and you can see it over and over in cheap horror films that flood the market. No, if you're going to make a good blood bath with your tongue firmly planted in your cheek you need to deliver more than the basics.

Porno doesn't really do that. Beyond a few funny lines, the movie is shocking only to be shocking. So as the breasts get revealed, the testicles explode, the anal rape occurs, and a penis is repeatedly shown being sutured on screen there's very little to actually enjoy. Porno, much like the genre of film it is named after, is all about visuals with none of the depth.

Porno
Director: Keola Racela
Rated: R
Release Date: N/A

It's the early 90s and four kids are working at a movie theater in Any Town, USA. There's the jock, Ricky (Glenn Stott); there's the perv, Abe (Evan Daves); there's the nerd, Todd (Larry Saperstein); there's the goth, Chaz (Jillian Mueller). When the extremely Christian theater manager, Mr. Pike (Bill Phillips), allows them to watch either Encino Man or A League of Their Own after the theater has closed the group can't decide, and in the ensuing argument uncover a secret door that leads them down into a second theater no one knew about. There they find a lot of creepy stuff, including an old film reel that they, of course, instantly decide to play. Cue the unleashing of a hellish succubus, who plays on their desires to... you know, do whatever hell demons want to do.

This leads to an absurd amount of gore, violence, and sex on the screen as the kids try to get the demon back into its prison and, in the process, uncover the dark secrets of the theater. The tight theater makes for a great "locked room" style horror film, but Racela can't keep it together. In a small space film like this geography is so key to keeping tension ratcheted up but it feels more like the characters have all the space in the world to roam despite only appearing in a total of four or five rooms. You never feel trapped because the movie never builds a sense of space as its more interested in building a sense of disgust.

There's an attempt here to be about something more. Since we're in a very Christian town with a very Christian movie owner the hypocrisy of every character not being very Christian at all is a clear statement. Each character struggles with things they think are bad because the bible says so, and the demon plays off of these "sins." It could be an interesting take when coupled with cleverly implemented violence, but it all gets lost in the constant push of the film's oneupmanship. The thread really never leads anywhere, thanks especially to an ending that makes little sense in the wider context of the film, and in the case of the very specific theme of overcoming a crisis of faith. 

When the film does actually shine is when it isn't painting the screen in blood and sex. Racela has assembled a charming cast of nobodies who play off each other in fantastic ways they get stuck in a movie theater with a naked sex demon. The early 90s setting gives them all a chance to play with tropes that today wouldn't exactly be relevant, and Jillian Mueller, as the resident goth, looks to be kicking off a decent career as a scream queen here. Even better is Robbie Tann as the evangelical Heavy Metal Jeff, who has forsaken his metal and his cigarettes in the name of Christ. While the other characters often feel cookie cutter, it is his take on a guy losing his faith that plays the best. Unfortunately, it just highlights how lackluster the film is at delivering on its promises outside of guts and private parts.

Porno might appeal to those who are looking for something that's just a bunch of shock and awe with little other payoff, but that's just not that hard to find at all. Hell, at least even lower-budget, direct-to-video stuff doesn't hold any pretensions over your head.

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Porno reviewed by Matthew Razak

4

BELOW AVERAGE

Has some high points, but they soon give way to glaring faults. Not the worst, but difficult to recommend.
How we score:  The Flixist reviews guide

 
 
 

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Matthew Razak
Matthew RazakEditor-in-Chief   gamer profile

Matthew Razak is the Editor-in-Chief here at Flixist, meaning he gets to take credit for all this awesome even though its really the rest of the amazing staff that gets it done. He started as a c... more + disclosures


 


 


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