Tuesday, October 22, 2019

BHFF ’19: P*rn*

Yes, these kids chose to watch a Satanic smut film that summoned a nasty succubus, but it is hard to blame them, considering their other choices were Encino Man and A League of Their Own. Yeah, yeah, “no crying in baseball,” but seriously, do really want to watch Rosie O’Donnell and Madonna kvetch again? Of course, we would rather see a rude and tasteless horror comedy. Fortunately, that is exactly what Keola Racela’s P*rn* happens to be. The title is slightly misleading (and prone to excite nanny-ware), because the naughty bits are not the least bit sexy, as viewers saw for themselves when it had its New York premiere at the 2019 Brooklyn Horror Film Festival.

It is 1992, so nobody has cell phones. The staff of this neighborhood first-run theater are all professed Christians in accordance with the owner-manager’s hiring practices, but they are really just as horny as any other horror movie teens. Chaz (as in Chastity) is hung up on Ricky, but he is not so into her, for reasons we can immediately guess. Everyone knows Todd is a horndog because he was busted for window peeping, but it was really the idea of Abe, who turned out to be much fleeter of foot. Meanwhile, Heavy Metal Jeff, the projectionist, clings to his Christian hardcore death-metal dreams.

Their boss lets them have their own private Friday night screening after the last public showing (Mr. Pike is supposed to be complete pond scum, but that is actually a pretty cool perk), but it will be a little delayed when a crazy old dude bursts into the theater and through a drop-wall to reveal a secret screening room and archive in the sub-basement. It is there they find the can of film that will summon Lilith. Of course, when she shows up, all H-E-double-hockey-sticks breaks loose. There will be temptation and some super uncomfortable gore (that happens to be funny, in the darkest way possible).

Even though the film portrays Pike as a hypocritical jerkweed and it skewers the Evangelical mindset in general (especially straight-conversion camp), Prno ironically holds more affection for its Christian characters than most Hollywood movies, in which religion ostensibly should not even play a role. In this case, their belief in Satan, End Times, and fire-and-brimstone evil is certainly vindicated, in spades. Regardless, they are generally good kids, just a little confused.

They are also unusually sharply drawn characters, especially by horror movie standards. By the end of the film, viewers understand where they are all coming from. Jillian Mueller sets the pace as Chaz, the closest thing they have to a leader (since she’s the key-holder). However, Robbie Tann scores the biggest laughs as the ever so unfortunate Heavy Metal Jeff. Plus, Evan Daves and Larry Saperstein have the right kind of “Two Coreys” buddy chemistry as Abe and Todd.

Screenwriters Matt Black & Laurence Vannicelli will probably offend the cancel culture once for every ten times they offend Evangelical Christians, which is something. In the case of horror comedies, the more offensive they get, the better they are. Prno comes to play and it takes care of genre business without wearing out its welcome. Highly recommended for fans in the mood for some outrageous midnight movie comedy, Prno will have a whole lot of life left on the festival circuit after its New York premiere at this year’s Brooklyn Horror Film Festival.