Metro Weekly

Pornography: A Thriller

Reel Affirmations 2009

Review by Sean Bugg

Rating: starstarstarstar (4 out of 5)
Sunday, 10/18/2009, 9:00 PM
Feature presentation, $10 at Shakespeare Theatre’s Harman Center for the Arts

NOT THAT ANYONE ever thought to ask before, but what happens when you mix up the David Lynch’s reality-shifting Lost Highway, the supernatural horror of The Ring, the torture-and-snuff aesthetic of Saw and early ’90s gay porn?

Well, you’d get Pornography, a post-modern meta-thriller about the fate of Mark Anton, a fresh-faced boy next door who burst on the videotape porn movie scene only to burn out and disappear in mysterious circumstances. What happens to Mark reverberates over 14 years, eventually pulling in both Michael, a New York writer working on a history of gay pornography, and Matt, a Los Angeles gay porn star who really just wants to direct.

Pornography starts off extremely slow and repetitive, as Matt slowly twists his way to a fateful interview with a mysterious client, an interview that suddenly turns horrifying and ambiguous. It’s a frustrating first act, but in retrospect largely necessary as director David Kittredge begins moving the pieces of the puzzle together.

There are some intensely creepy moments on hand, as when Michael opens a mysterious envelope to pull out a photo — a photo of himself pulling the photo out of the envelope, ad infinitum. Matt, who is inspired by a series of dreams to write the script for The Mark Anton Story, plays the lead role in the film only to find the barrier between his world and Mark’s has grown frighteningly porous.

Complicated and at time terrifying, Pornography doesn’t offer a simple answer to its mysteries. But if you’re sitting in the audience, watching, you may be guilty as charged.

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Pornography: A Thriller
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Sean Bugg is Editor Emeritus for Metro Weekly.

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