cinewise

Porno

2019 | Dir: Keola Racela | Wri: Matt Black, Laurence Vannicelli | USA

Screenshot from Porno

To be filed under horror films with a great premise and a terrible execution. There are many things wrong with Porno — the moralising, an unfunny script, a plodding plot …It is so bad that it doesn’t even become good, which is the least you can expect from it.

The year is 1992 and the religious owner of a cinema lets his employees to have a lock-in with any film they want to see on Friday night. Through a plot device that is all too convenient, they come across a hidden screen in the basement and an archive romom full of old film reels … and a book about the occult. As you do.

Most of the reels have been destroyed, save one … which they obviously watch … bits of it, it turns out, as soon as they realise that they can see the “bush” of a woman. The artistic film, as one of the characters adamantly points out, turns out to be about a psychadelic ritual which unleashes a sex demon to prey on these teenagers.

Well, when I say prey, I mean really she pops up when the filmmakers realised nothing had happened for 15 minutes. Time to show the sex-demon whose only power (albeit effective) is to remotely crush male genitalia. Cue an obligatory inpsecting-crush-balls scene in all its gory glory. I guess there is merit in that there are as many shots of male genitalia as female, so … progress?

No. Because the gist of the film is that pornography is bad and Jesus will save all our souls. Did I mention that there is a gay character who was sent to Jesus camp to cure his homosexaulity? (to be fair he saves the day by having sex with a Burly Man — as per the character name on IMDb). Oh, and there is a guy who is Straight Edge, supposedly ironic, but actually more of a poster boy of all if this. The film is not even trying to be ironic.

It’s a well known trope that promiscuous teenagers are the first ones to be killed in slasher films, but that moralising is usually quite tame and there is often redemption of that idea by the end. Here, we don’t have that. The ordeals these teenagers go through don’t provide an arc for its moralising, but merely allows it play along.

Some of this would have been forgiveable if it were scary or funny. It’s neither. It has a brilliant premise, a wonderful setting to really tap in the Stranger Things retro mood we’re all living now, but it wastes it all away on one-dimensional characters whose only real contribution to the story is to utter gems like “Let’s rock” when they’re about to investigate a dark room.

It’s such a wasted effort, this. It should have been so much better.