PORNO

Bow Chica Bow Wow

(The 2019 SXSW Film Festival ran March 8-17 in the fantastic city of Austin, TX. Like what you see here on Hammer to Nail? Why not pay just $1.00 per month via Patreon to help keep us going?)

Porno is a promising feature debut from director Keola Racela and his college collaborators, writers Matt Black and Laurence Vannicelli.

The story kicks off in July 1992, with a group of devout teenage employees closing up their small-town movie theater. But these God Warriors are all carrying Christian guilt. Todd (Larry Saperstein) and Abe (Evan Daves) are best friends with conspicuous voyeuristic tendencies. Chastity (Jillian Mueler) is dabbling in Gothdom but still loves the Lord. Ricky (Glenn Scott) just got back from a “transformative” camp run by the theater owner and spiritual mentor, Mr. Pike. Heavy Metal Jeff (Robbie Tann) doth protest his straight edge ways too much. While the Jesus crew debate which of the latest releases should close out their evening (it’s between Encino Man and A League of Their Own), an inebriated tramp crashes through the lobby and disappears through a previously concealed doorway. Their curiosity gets the better of them and they wander into a burned-out basement filled with remnants of a very different kind of movie theater. The sort of place that showed titles like “10 Foot Hole 10 Foot Pole” and “Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em.”

Most of the canisters are goners but one of them glows like the One Ring and Abe is drawn to the Precious. Jeff warns against deviating from their PG cinema choices. Despite his vocal disapproval, he concedes when outvoted, and reluctantly strings up the reel. Having never before seen a real adult film, they are only a little suspicious when it depicts an open-robed, otherwise naked man wielding a knife and ringing a mysterious bell. They aren’t even tipped off by the Rosemary’s Baby “La La La” choir or the cryptic symbols scrawled onto the frames. “Is this an art film?” asks one of the kids and no one can answer him with any certainty. But Jeff lets it ride until a woman appears, drops her rustic fur shawl and reveals her 70s-style full-frontal glory. At the first glimpse of the female form, Jeff stops the film and bloviates on the chemical addictiveness of pornography.

That’s when Todd declares himself “the Wildcard” and locks Jeff out of the booth, allowing the film to reach its bloody conclusion. They return the reel to the basement and go on with their night, unaware that their movie night unleashed a demon from hell. Her name is Lilith and she’s a Succubus who preys on people’s desires. As they attempt to resist their ungodly urges and survive the night, they discover secrets about each other, and about Mr. Pike.

The story follows some familiar beats, but the effectively eerie score by Carla Patullo, as well as some great practical gore effects makes Porno a fun romp from start to finish. The best effect of all is the titular (not sorry) porno itself, which manages to look both vintage and cursed AF.

Katelyn Pearce is also quite effective in her mute performance as the demon whose smile and physical attributes beguile even as her victims know the danger she poses.

The critique on fundamentalism is light, and doesn’t serve to condemn all religion – just the hypocritical kind. It’s just enough depth to give the audience something on which to chew while they revel in the carnal carnage.

Like what you see here on Hammer to Nail? Why not pay just $1.00 per month via Patreon to help keep us going?

– Jessica Baxter (@tehBaxter)

 

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