Porno [Fantasia International Film Festival Review]

I wouldn't believe Porno actually exists had I not seen it with my own eyes. The movie, which screened at the 2019 Fantasia International Film Festival, has one of the kookiest, looniest, most wacked-out concepts you'll ever come across. Once that concept is fully set up, the picture proceeds to shoot itself right over the top, never looking back down. There's something quite amazing about a movie willing to toss aside all sense of decency and decorum in an effort to entertain you.

The story takes place in 1992 at a cinema showing the Tom Hanks/Geena Davis baseball comedy A League of Their Own and the Pauly Shore flick Encino Man. The cinema's owner, Mr. Pike (Bill Phillips), is a Christian man, and all of his adolescent/young adult employees are Christians, too. Abe (Evan Daves) and Todd (Larry Saperstein) are best friends, Chaz (Jillian Mueller) has just been made assistant manager, and Ricky (Glenn Stott) is a jock who is trying to turn over a new leaf. There's also Heavy Metal Jeff (Robbie Tann), the straight-edge projectionist.

When the theater is closed for the night, Mr. Pike lets his team watch a movie by themselves. After discovering a dusty old film canister in a hidden room, they decide to see what's on it. What they discover is half pornography/half satanic ritual. Viewing it unleashes Lilith (Katelyn Pearce), a succubus who proceeds to seduce and terrorize the gang. They have to find a way to get her back into the film canister.

Describing the tone of Porno is difficult. Words don't do justice to the movie's insanity. Lilith, shall we say, goes after the private parts of her male victims. One character experiences severe testicular trauma, which is shown in mind-blowing detail. There's also a really wild climactic (no pun intended) sex scene, a lot of full-frontal female nudity, and some gore effects that will impress horror buffs who think they've become desensitized to gore. To paraphrase Spinal Tap, this film goes to eleven.

That might sound like a turn-off to some people, and it will be. Porno has its tongue firmly in its cheek, though. The central joke is that all these Christian characters grapple with their own natural impulses. They're interested in sex at the same time that they view it (or are told to view it) as potentially sinful. Lilith is the literal representation of the idea that sex is evil. To the degree that there's any message in the film, it's that no matter how pious you try to be, a fascination with the prurient or carnal is still going to be there. Fight it all you want, but human nature is going to do its thing.

Director Keola Racela makes excellent use of what appears to be a real cinema. Some funny jokes are made around or about the two features showing there, as well as the duties of working in a movie theater. These things accentuate the far-out plot. Porno is a skillfully-made, no-holds-barred horror-comedy. It's extreme and not for the easily offended. And you know what else? It's totally freaking awesome.


Porno is unrated, but contains graphic nudity, sexual content, extremely gory violence, and adult language. The running time is 1 hour and 38 minutes.