Porno Review [SXSW 2019]

By
movies:
Luke Parker

Reviewed by:
Rating:
2.5
On March 16, 2019
Last modified:March 16, 2019

Summary:

Porno is often genuinely funny whenever it decides to not be horrifically repulsive, which it is far too much of the time.

Porno is admittedly not my kind of film: A B-grade horror drenched in blood which proudly displays testicular decimation and dripping demonic double-d’s. With that said, it also hosts an array of successful comedic bits thanks to an (also) admittedly/occasionally smart screenplay by Matt Black and Laurence Vannicelli, and a solid exhibition of teenage companionship at its core, which seems to be a driving theme at this year’s South by Southwest Film Festival. Unfortunately, due to my newfound tolerance levels, Porno feels more like a macroaggression against the easily queasy than anything else.

Personally, I find it difficult to enjoy a movie I mostly watched with my hands draped over my eyes (something I really almost never do), though a lot of the people around me seemed to be having a good time. Again, not my kind of thing.

Set in a small Christian town in the early 1990s (the limited selection of A League of Their Own and Encino Man plop us into 1992), Porno finds a lot of its comedy as a coming-of-age story of explosive sexual liberation. Starting out in the front yard of a suburban home, we watch as peeping Tom’s Abe (Evan Daves) and Todd (Larry Saperstein) peer in on a married couple in the grips of naked passion. It doesn’t take long for Todd to kill the horny mood and start the funny one, telling Abe he can’t get caught doing this again.

They go to their job at the local, two-screen movie house, where, after a prayer circle signals the start of their shift, it doesn’t seem like their perverted actions would be looked upon too favorably.

Temptation already seems to be an uphill battle for the four teenagers staffed at the theater, including goth-styled Chasity (Jillian Mueller), the recently promoted assistant manager who has her made-up eyes on co-worker Ricky (Glenn Stott), another high-schooler just returning from a strange sort of summer camp. The fifth employee is the projectionist known as Heavy Metal Jeff (Robbie Tann, the best part of this movie), a college dropout who wants nothing more than to please the lord, repeatedly praising His power with the abbreviated “CBTL” (“Christ Bears the Load!”).

Black and Vannicelli intelligently personify the group’s personal withholdings after they find a mysterious looking film in the basement of their perceivably “virtuous” theater. Once Jeff reluctantly plays it, it turns out to be pornography of some sort – but not the mainstream stuff boys at that time would be able to easily locate; it’s sickening, and almost violent, featuring a naked succubus (Katelyn Pearce) who they’ve now unleashed onto themselves.

The rest of Porno is a zany, blood-soaked, skin-exposed game of cat and mouse that does have some frightening moments but is really little more than a collage of gag-worthy and violent attempts at comedy. Other horror films in the last couple of years, such as Jordan Peele’s Get Out and the Happy Death Day franchise, have seen the successful binding of fear and laughs (other than those directed at absurdity), but Porno seems to be coming at it from a different angle, where the laughter come more from a place of embarrassment and shock than of appreciation for the joke.

With that said, the moments before and during the group’s flight from the horn-headed embodiment of horniness in which they must work together to combat their own enticements are often amusing, and occasionally touching, as is their total ignorance of the sex-crazed world around them. One of them asks during the screening of the summoning sex film if it’s an art film. You see, that’s a good joke.

But Black and Vannicelli, as well as director Keola Racela turn away from the typical, yet appealing teenage theme of perverseness and inexperience to focus instead on the nasty and the hideous. The demon’s spasms are compiled in a jumbled mess of a finale featuring nauseatingly bright lights and flashing images, and her methods (she rips one man’s penis off of his body in one scene and crushes the testicles of another in a later confrontation) are equally uninspiring and unappealing.

Porno is another case in the horror genre that confuses gore for intensity. If Get Out proved to us that comedy and horror could actually mix, it also showed us that less is sometimes more. Porno did not get that message.

Porno Review [SXSW 2019]
Middling

Porno is often genuinely funny whenever it decides to not be horrifically repulsive, which it is far too much of the time.

All Posts
Loading more posts...