Porno review — A shock and laugh-bereft horror-comedy

Directed by Keola Racela | Written by Matt Black and Laurence Vannicelli | 98 min | Hoopla, and On Demand 

This one is a little painful. It’s an ode to comedy horror movies of the past by filmmakers who deliver something that feels entirely ersatz — neither funny enough nor frightening enough to qualify for the genre. Worse, it misses real opportunity to be transgressive, instead leaning into a weirdly puritanical streak.

The set-up is so enticing, too. We’re in a single-screen cinema back in 1992, showing A League Of Their Own and Encino Man. Friday night the staff, four god-fearing teens — manager Chaz (Jillian Mueller), ushers Abe (Evan Daves), Todd (Larry Saperstein), and Ricky (Glenn Stott) — and college drop-out-turned-projectionist, Heavy Metal Jeff (Robbie Tann) — can’t decide which movie to watch after hours. When a homeless dude plows through a wall revealing a hidden smut theatre and storage room, the staffers project an “art film,” which releases a succubus (Katelyn Pearce) that preys on their hidden desires.

For a feature that earns its R-rating with full-frontal nudity and some gruesome penis-and-testicle mangling, Porno refuses to capitalize on its promising concept — faith challenged by temptation. As an audience we’re never made to feel complicit, and all the character arcs hold to the conviction that old-fashioned ideas of sin remain fixed — there’s no sense by the end that our young heroes are really free from their repression, even as they bond over a shared threat.

Maybe if the laughs were more substantial all this would be forgivable, but despite a late charge with some impressive effects and a solid Ghostbusters-related gag, Porno is a strangely sanitized experience — Pearce’s blood-streaked abdomen and geysers of black barf notwithstanding.

About the author

flawintheiris

Carsten Knox is a massive, cheese-eating nerd. In the day he works as a journalist in Halifax, Nova Scotia. At night he stares out at the rain-slick streets, watches movies, and writes about what he's seeing.

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