Jun 16, 2017

[Movies] King Cobra (2016) Review

More explorations of the Netflix library's collection of LGBT content led me to King Cobra, the odd biographical drama thriller based on a book that covers rumors related to the gay porn industry.

Say that ten times really fast.

I had never heard about all this drama around the time it was happening. Then again, who really looks too deeply at the gay porn industry? Half the time people don't even know the names of all the actors in the scene, what more their real life drama outside of the studio.

So this movie felt a little surreal as its based on a book that talks the events that I suppose make strong enough accusations / implications that led to the story of the movie. There are no claims about things being 100% accurate, but the marketing material does claim it's inspired by a true story.

But man, how'd they drag Christian Slater into this?

Synopsis: King Cobra is a 2016 American biographical crime-drama movie written and directed by Justin Kelly. The screenplay was based on the book Cobra Killer: Gay Porn, Murder, and the Manhunt to Bring the Killers to Justice by Andrew E. Stoner and Peter A. Conway.

The movie largely focused on the young Sean Lockheart who later becomes the gay porn star Brent Corrigan (Garrett Clayton) as he begins his career as the star of Cobra Video, as managed by Stephen (Christian Slater). Their arrangement is an odd one that has the young man living with Stephen full-time as the make their movies as he has told his parents back home that he is some sort of a film internship program.

On the flip side we have the very unusual couple of Joe Kerekes (James  Franco) and Harlow Cuadra (Keedra Allen) who put up a rival porn company. But once Brent Corrigan becomes popular, the pair knows that they need a star like Brent to push their own efforts further. But despite Corrigan's willingness to work with them given his own dissatisfaction with  working exclusively with Cobra. But his contract won't allow him to do so - or at least he can't using his screen name. And thus the complication for things.

What I Liked: Slater is pretty believable as a creepy porn producer/director. I mean seriously, you'll feel dirty after watching him film his models. And that is a testament to either his acting ability or his more specific acting ability when it comes to creep, somewhat neurotic roles like this one. I don't fully understand how he got involved in this project, but he certainly brought his A game to the table, in a manner of speaking.

Clayton made a decent enough Corrigan I suppose, but I can only base my impressions based on some of his porngraphic work and his odd participation in indie movies here and there. He's not quite a dead ringer for him visually, but you do get that Brent Corrigan vibe from his performance. And he carries his parts of the movie well enough in that regard.

What Could Have Been Better: I don't quite know who the people Franco and Allen were portraying but they seemed pretty ridiculous. James Franco can only really play crazy as James Franco and so this movie felt like more of that but in the context of hustler/escort/pornographers in a very weird relationship. I'm sure there was some truth inspiring that portrayal but a lot of times it was just nuts.

The movie suffers from odd pacing and a story that initially seems like a Corrigan biography but shifts into the odd crime piece but it never manages that transition well. As much as you can argue that they're all part of the biographical narrative, they just felt odd together in terms of how they were directed. And so the movie just feels off in so many ways.

TL;DR: King Cobra is the biography that we never really cared enough to want to learn about but here it is. It shares a bit too much with the amateur gay porn that inspired the story and suffers dearly for it. Thus the movie only gets 1.5 campy non-sex scenes out of a possible 5.

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