Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to VOD and streaming services including the trip to Mars drama “red Rover,” the opioid story “Castle in the Ground,” the French arthouse hit “Les Misérables,” the horror comedy “Porno” and the documentary “They Call Me Dr. Miami.”
Despite its racy name and some male-gaze “Porky’s” style nudity, “Porno,” Keola Racela’s horror-comedy out this week on VOD, doesn’t belong on Porn Hub.
Set in 1992, “Porno” mostly takes place inside a small-town theatre staffed by four teenagers who begin their shift with a prayer circle. On a night off they’re offered the chance to screen one of the theatre’s two wholesome offerings, “Encino Man” or “A League of Their Own” after hours. Instead of watching Pauly Shore or Tom Hanks they end up chasing a disheveled old man (Peter Reznikoff), who appears to have broken in, around the place. He leads them to a hole in the wall and a treasure trove of mysterious old film reels. One of them, bound in a leather case and stamped with a peculiar symbol, tempts them. Minutes after threading it into the projector the screen is filled with images unlike anything they’ve ever seen before. Ritualistic violence, nudity, a boatload of blood. “Is this what all pornography is like?” they wonder.
They find out that the movie they watched wasn’t pornography but some psychedelic relic that releases the onscreen succubus (Katelyn Pearce) into the real world. Each must deal with their own hidden desires as she attempts to steal their souls, and occasionally make their testicles explode.
Of course, “Porno” isn’t really about a buxom succubus who tempts the teens. The script, by Laurence Vannicelli and Matt Black, is a riff on repression, obedience and self-hate wrapped around a retro teen movie. That means lots of gross out humour, (see the above-mentioned exploded testicles), PG nudity and, in this case, some old-school demonic imagery that would give Kenneth Anger a run for his money. The moralizing is kept to a minimum, used as a framing device for the action and, I suppose, to generate some depth for the characters, who are mostly ripped from the pages of Teen Exploitation Movie 101 Handbook. For every character like projectionist Heavy Metal Jeff (Robbie Tann), who shakes up the playbook a bit as a straight edge despite his rock ‘n roll nickname there’s another one, like hunky jock Ricky (Glenn Stott) who seems to have wandered in from any number of 90s teen movies.
“Porno” begins strong and shows some serious promise in the staging and editing of the various horror-related sequences but succumbs to its worst puerile instincts in scene after scene.