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"What are you really paying to see?",
This review is from: Pornography - A Thriller [DVD] (DVD)
In recent years there has been a minor, yet noticeable, trend in 'gay-themed' films to embrace the Gothic and supernatural. To date, the finest examples of this are independent shorts: "Cowboy", "Love Bite", "Freunde", "Gay Zombie" and "Bugcrush". Writer/director David Kittredge's PORNOGRAPHY: A THRILLER takes this trend feature-length.
A film in three Acts, the stage is set in 1995. Ex-porn star Mark Anton is offered $20,000 by his former manager/producer to attend a one-off, private session for a client. Having attempted to 'clean-up' his image, Mark is reluctant, but the lure of the cash is too great. It soon becomes clear that the mysterious client wants more from Mark than the latter is prepared to give - and that a higher price will be exacted.
Act Two is set in New York, 14 years later. A freelance writer who is working on a book about the porn industry moves into a new apartment with his boyfriend. As his research uncovers rumours surrounding Mark Anton and a snuff film, the supernatural rears its head; possession and poltergeist-style happenings begin to disrupt the writer's days, suggesting a connection between his new apartment and Mark Anton.
Act Three flips to L.A. Successful porn star Matt Stevens wants to move into directing. He 'dreams' a screenplay: The Story of Mark Anton, about the latter's unexplained disappearance. As he begins filming, he becomes obsessed with discovering what happened to Mark, and gradually his boundaries between dream, fantasy and wakefulness dissolve.
PORNOGRAPHY: A THRILLER will become one of the most talked-about independent films of the year. The film's most immediate quality is its darkly strained atmosphere; particularly during Act Two, the palpable tension is spine-chilling, with an omnipresent sense of nervous unease. Think Stephen King's "The Shining" having supper with an Alfred Hitchcock film. Its low-budget background is nowhere reflected in the production values, the cinematography and musical score especially being of the highest standard. The cast, too, are generally strong, with impressive performances in particular from Pete Scherer (as Matt Stevens) and Matthew Montgomery.
A jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces, PORNOGRAPHY: A THRILLER does not offer comprehensive resolution. Like any good film, it leaves the viewer - or perhaps voyeur - wanting more. And possibly this is the overriding theme, the impossibility of desire's fulfilment. Transgressing established genres, this film deserves a widespread audience. Highly recommended.