King Cobra – BFI LFF – Review

Adapting from the real life story of the murder of porn producer Bryan Cochis, (Christian Slater) as Stephen in the film, after two rival low time producers Joe (James Franco) and Harlowe try to buy out the contract of rising porn star Brent Corrigan.

Plucking a barely legal Sean Paul Lockhart who uses the moniker Brent Corrigan (Garret Clayton) as his porn star name, legendary porn producer makes a slew of films with his young protoge whose rise is phenomenal, superseding fellow porn star and escort Harlowe’s popularity, much to the frustration of his boyfriend and producer the über jealous Joe whose lifestyle of fast cars, luxury apartments and days sunbathing are not quite in line with their income. Joe’s problem’s eventually catch up with him and Sean becomes aware of how much he is worth and how much Stephen is taking advantage of him, Sean leaves him, breaking his contract, but  his career hits a brick wall as his porn name belongs to Stephen. Learning of his availability, Joe is convinced that a film with Harlowe and Brent will turn his fortune for the better and will take any means necessary to get Sean’s out if contract from Stephen by any means necessary.

Before any on screen action begins there are a laughable amount of pre-credit roles for the various production companies responsible for making the film. Maybe unintentional but Justin Kelly does play for laughs through-out, his main means by a ludicrous amount of sex scenes, replicating the hammyness of porn films themselves, yet its part of the downfall of the film that feels uncertain what its trying to be. It lacks the panache of Paul Thomas Anderson, visually and dramatically. For the most part it’s largely melodramatic but it’s inconsistent with its tone. It’s one of Christian Slater’s better film performances for a while but he’s on a different dramatic plain compared to the over the top James Franco who becomes fairly irritating. There’s a lot of build up for a known ending and when it comes it feels all fairly unworthy. A novel cameo appearance from Alicia Silverstone will raise a few smiles but there’s not a lot of salvation from a story that’s source material was maybe not all too spectacular. Although messy, its still somewhat watchable.

★★★

Chris Aitken

 

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