There is a certain risk titling a film Porno, one of those being the perception of exactly what the movie is about and how to find information about that film online. However, it is one certain way to ensure that horror fans with a love for anything schlocky, sleazy and somewhat silly will flock to see what could be an x-rated cult classic. Director Keola Racela and writers Laurence Vannicelli and Matt Black, have taken the comedy horror genre and added their own pornographic stamp to it, but does the film ever really live up to its title?

Porno is set inside a movie theatre in the 90s, which is run by the exceptionally religious Mr. Pike (played by William Phillips). One evening he entrusts the running of the place to Assistant Manager Chaz (played by Jillian Mueller) and the rest of the team, leaving them to screen the rest of the movies and then be responsible enough to screen a movie for themselves. After much debate about what film they should watch, the group of religiously-repressed teens stumble upon a goldmine of x-rated exploitation films. They seal their fate by choosing one to watch, and soon they realise they have unleashed a succubus that is hellbent on taking their virginity, their dignity and most importantly, their souls. 

Porno is a film designed to keep the watcher enthralled through its combination of relatable awkward teenage behaviour, demonic horror and laugh out loud comedy. It sets the audience up with the perfect premise for all of these aspects, and provides us with an ensemble cast that has this seamlessly flawless atmosphere between them. The pacing that comes from their delivered dialogue, and interactions with one another is enough alone to keep you watching the entirety of this film. However, even with some pitch-perfect acting and deliverables, the overall story of the film doesn’t manage to provide anything that feels inventive, fresh or different from the abundance of comedy horror films that are on the market. 

Jillian Mueller, Evan Daves, Glen Stott and Larry Saperstein have all the dynamics of an awkward group of teenagers; the rebellious rock chick Chaz who isn’t really that rebellious; the repressed Ricky who keeps talking about his non-existent girlfriend; the sexual deviant Abe; and the shy and timid nerd Todd. But someone that steals the show and is perhaps the most redeeming aspect of the entire film is Heavy Metal Jeff played by Robbie Tann. The straight-edged projectionist is trying to keep himself out of trouble, and claims that a lot of his reformed behaviour is thanks to Mr. Pike who helped to show him the light of religion, and how it can keep him from committing his favourite sins. The characters are well fleshed out, believable to follow and really help to hold the film up when it falters at providing on-screen entertainment for the audience to sink their teeth into. 

As a movie about x-rated exploitation films and repressed religious teenagers, it seems to lack in ever really feeling that sleazy or schlocky at all. There are a few scenes of nudity, but nothing that is overtly shocking or pornographic in nature – even the sex scenes that we do witness don’t feel as x-rated as they could have for a film with the title Porno. The main focus when it comes to sexual elements is on Katelyn Pearce’s character Lilith, who also happens to be a succubus that wants to feed on souls and male genitalia. Understandably she must seduce the characters of the film, and somewhat the audience at the same time, but the presentation of this character feels a little male-gaze, and there’s only one instance towards the end of the film where the same presentation of the male body is offered to the viewer. Even though there is an element of needing a sexual seductress to lead the storyline of the film, it never feels like the counterpart is fully made up for and instead we see mutilated male genitalia….

The film comes to its first climax around halfway through, with Lilith inflicting a seriously deranged act upon one of the characters. The audience are presented with some full frontal male nudity here, and the use of some shockingly realistic special gore effects that are bound to make any gender feel sick to their stomachs. This stand out scene unfortunately leads to disappointment as we are never presented with anything as gory or as in your face as this again, which makes the rest of the film feel like a drag even with a tight run time. Porno could have benefitted from either saving this horrific yet hilarious moment until later on in the film, or leaning towards the splatter genre and ramping up the blood and visceral even more throughout the final act of the film. 

The demon herself, Lilith, is summoned by a short film that the teenagers watch and in all honesty, when watching Porno it became prevalent that the better film would have been the one that the teens get to watch. With flashing occultist imagery and symbolism, vibrant neon colours reminiscent of Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy, and oversexualised visuals – this would have been one hell of an induced trip leading to a blood soaked cumshot. But Porno took the easy route out, and focused far too heavily on the teenagers dynamics and the personal dramas that they are facing all because of the fact they are feeling repressed. 

Porno could have found itself going down on a few different paths; one being the seedy exploitation film full of nudity, uncomfortable sex scenes and over-the top gore, and the other being a cinematic nightmare into the surreal Hell of a succubus. However, Porno takes the easy option and becomes a witty, light-hearted and occasionally horrifying film that leaves a lot to be desired. For some, they’ll love how easy to watch this is, but for others you’ll be expecting far more.

Rating: ★★½


Directed by: Keola Racela

Written by: Matt Black, Laurence Vannicelli

Cast: David Arrow, Evan Daves, Blake French, Katelyn Pearce

 

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  1. […] the release of his debut feature film earlier this week, we chat with Porno director Keola Racela about the challenges that come with shooting a feature, how the film got its […]

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