SXSW 2019 – Review: PORNO Is An Absurdly Fun Horror-Comedy

FIRST IMPRESSION

Porno is an enormously enjoyable throwback horror-comedy with an intriguing concept, plenty of scares, and bountiful laughs.
Writing
Directing
Acting
Technical Merit

Porno is a new horror-comedy film directed by Keola Racela and written by Matt Black and Laurence Vannicelli. The movie is about five movie theater employees in a small Christian town in the 90’s who discover a mysterious old film in the basement, accidentally releasing an evil sex demon who begins to stalk them.

The biggest thing that this movie has going for it is its wacky story. Although the tale of the succubus is a common one in film (2014 indie favorite It Follows being a prime example), Porno handles it in a way that is both meaningful and extremely entertaining. Much of the runtime is spent playing with the tropes of the horror genre, and while this is never entirely original, the movie still feels refreshing because of the level of weirdness with which it approaches them.

One of the weaknesses in the film is that the character development is somewhat underwhelming, but this does play into the satire at multiple points. There are quite a few elements in the characters’ backstories that feel somewhat contrived and unnecessary. However, despite this, the characters all manage to be sympathetic and enjoyable to watch. The most fun character in the movie is almost undoubtedly Heavy Metal Jeff, who provides a big portion of the film’s comedy.

porno film

The movie is also successful at being quite hilarious. In the beginning of the film, there seems to be a focus on poking fun at the overly religious community in which the characters find themselves. This over-the-top commentary is both fun and telling. Other laughs come from the sheer absurdity of the events. Regardless, for anyone with a dark and raunchy sense of humor, this is sure to be a hoot.

Additionally, the movie manages to have some strong horror elements too. There are a lot of jump scares, and while these certainly aren’t of the most original variety (something insignificant happens accompanied by a loud score), they are still effective and rather funny. Furthermore, there is some really disturbing imagery, especially in the second and third acts as things start to go even crazier.

porno theater

In terms of acting, the film was relatively strong. All of the actors in the lead ensemble do a solid job of capturing the B-movie feel that is required of their performances. Robbie Tann is absolutely the standout in his role as Heavy Metal Jeff, having some of the funniest moments in the movie. Katelyn Pearce and Bill Phillips are also great in the supporting cast.

The most impressive part of the film is the execution. Many of the visuals are extremely good, especially for an independent movie. The cinematography and production design are both excellent, doing a great job of setting the tone and period of the film. Additionally, the special effects makeup for the gore is impressive and even frightening at times.

Overall, Porno was an extremely fun horror comedy. It definitely won’t work for everyone, but if you enjoy absurd horror comedies, this is one you will want to have on your radar.

Porno is now playing at the 2019 SXSW Film Festival.

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Sean Boelman
Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.

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