Porno Review

Porno Review

Porno, presented by Fangoria, is almost exactly what you might expect from something with that title. This trashy exploitation film spills over with gratuitous violence and soft-core erotica in a way that both fascinates and disgusts. But however hard they try, carnage cannot cover up the fact that this film fails to do anything more than shock. At times, terribly entertaining and with a real sense of humour but it wastes some bloody great ideas and instead falls limp.

Following a set of misfits locked in a small-town movie theatre for their weekly work-approved film night, The film documents the fallout of the groups chosen watch: a mysterious old film hidden in the cinema’s concealed basement. After a satanic porno appears onscreen, Chastity (Jillian Mueller), Abe (Evan Daves), Todd (Larry Saperstein), Ricky (Glenn Stott), and projectionist ‘Heavy Metal' Jeff (Robbie Tann) soon learn that the theatre and the people working in it aren’t all they seem as a lustful sex demon is unleashed.

The most glaring issue with Porno is its lack of engaging characters. While we are not explicitly led to dislike Abe or Todd for their overt and clandestine voyeurism, Chastity for outing her co-worker, or Ricky for…well he doesn’t really do much, but none of them are given any real redeemable qualities to make us identify with, or even like, them. They aren’t given much character at all, quite frankly. The only exception to this being Jeff who carries a lot of the film's best moments with unflinching enthusiasm.

Our succubus, who is named as Lilith (Katelyn Pearce), is in the same boat as her chaste victims due to the fact she is surprisingly given little to do throughout the film. Of course, she has her hand in (predominantly penile) punishments in the latter part of the film but despite this it's hard not to find her boring. What makes this even more disappointing is that her introduction screamed Giallo, with hyper-stylised shots, gore, and a pulsing hypnotic score reminiscent of Goblin’s Suspiria that played whenever she was near. Although this style does appear alongside the demon, it isn’t pushed enough to feel satisfying.

Credit must be due to the film for, very occasionally, avoiding some of the easiest, and perhaps most distasteful, of jokes. Specifically, it never asks us to laugh at the characters for their religious beliefs and seemingly is working towards the idea that healthy sex education, or at the very least healthy ways of expressing sexual frustrations, is necessary whatever your belief system. However, none of this carried through to the end. And don’t get me wrong, films do not need to have a message to be good, but to me, Porno simply had nothing to say at all. For an 18 certificate film that from the beginning aims to go beyond what is seen in horror it’s disappointing that violence and bloodshed are pushed to the point of nauseousness, while sex acts are minimal, nothing more explicit depicted than what you’d see in a 15.

Visually speaking, however, the film is a lot stronger. While clunky dialogue buries jokes before they even have a chance to land, slick editing from director/editor Keola Racela brings in some great visual gags à la Edgar Wright. This tightness does ease as the film progresses, an issue that ties in with some clear pacing issues, leaving the climax to rely on more mundane set-ups that are neither funny, sexy nor horrifying.

Porno, even with all of its many flaws, is certain to click with some (I'm sure it went down well with the Frightfest 2019 audience). It is neon-lit trash doused with an unhealthy amount of blood and dick jokes - doesn’t that sound like the makings of a cult classic to you? It is the kind of film that doesn't necessarily review well but is easily rewatchable whenever the call for a pulpy horror film is made. Perhaps this is exactly the kind of movie that this group would have howled at as they sat together in the theatre. But I must admit, I can’t imagine re-watching this anytime soon.

Porno can be viewed digitally from June 1st

Overall

The sexy satanic slaughtering of this horror-comedy is more likely to make you nauseous than make you want to watch it again.

3

out of 10

Porno (2019)
Dir: Keola Racela | Cast: Blake French, David Arrow, Evan Daves, Jillian Mueller | Writers: Laurence Vannicelli, Matt Black

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