King Cobra (2016)
Christian Slater, James Franco, Keegan Allen and Garrett Clayton
Directed by Justin Kelly
Distributed by IFC Midnight
Runtime: 92 minutes
Based On a True Story
Gay Porn Stars
The film centers on the 2007 murder of gay pornography producer Bryan Kocis (named “Stephen” in the film and played by Christian Slater) by two aspiring producers (James Franco as Joe and Keegan Allen as Harlow) who wanted to buy out Corrigan’s performing contract. Stephen, a closeted gay mogul who runs a website called Cobra Video from his normal suburban house, turns ‘Brent’, a wannabe adult performer, into a popular client. However, his rival producer Joe and his unstable lover Harlow become jealous and vow to stop Brent by murdering Stephen.
This is based on a true story, which I felt that I needed to state from the jump. I decided to watch this on Netflix because of the fact that I had actually heard of the gay porn star, Brent Corrigan, through a friend, who greatly supports his career. It made me interested to see what this movie would state about him, but also I had never heard that he was involved in a murder, even if it was primarily as a catalyst and not the one doing it himself. One of the reasons that I am reviewing this movie is to show to my readers that at times I am going to review things that may not feel YA or kid-friendly. I am going to review a multitude of things. This includes films that may be considered rated R or adult in nature. This definitely fits into that category of more adult than most films that I would normally watch myself actually. It never gets pornographic, so you know in advance. It is edgy and racy for sure, which you would expect from a movie literally about gay porn star, but you never see anything besides some chests and bulges.
The story is basically a true crime story. It involves a prolific gay pornographer, who does several shoots with underage Sean Lockhart (aka Brent Corrigan). He doesn’t realize at the time that Sean is underage. Sean eventually wants to start his own career on his own terms, but the guy doesn’t want to release him from his contract because he is making bank! Well steps in two other gay pornography people who take matters into their own hands. You can guess where this goes since I said it was a true crime story. How does it get there though? That is part of the fun of watching this film. People that seemingly don’t connect in their lives, suddenly do.
Having seen many of the people that the actors were portraying via pictures, I think the casting choices were pretty spot on. The only one that seemed off was James Franco, since the individual he was playing seemed to be a bit more of a muscle head. No matter how hard he tries, James Franco cannot pull off muscle head. Everyone else, however, was definitely similar to the person they are portraying from real life. The acting by everyone was really spot on. I appreciated Molly Ringwald and Alicia Silverstone for their bit parts in this probably the most. The film seems like something that they normally would not be in, so it was great to see them take on roles that would be a little more challenging than what I expect from these individuals. It actually made me appreciate Silverstone as a more serious actress, if you can believe that. I think it is because I just saw “American Woman” right after this and before I wrote this review. Both of these show off her actual acting chops that I simply hadn’t seen from her elsewhere. The film takes great pains in trying to make sure that the actors closely resemble the real people that they are playing, which definitely came into focus during a scene with Garrett Clayton playing “Brent” and he is in his skivvies. It was obvious they were trying to go for a classic “Brent” look that many people have seen, if they follow his career or do a simple google search for the individual. It was interesting to see them go to such great strides, but I think this is because many of the people, including “Brent”, are still alive, so they are able to call the production out if it wasn’t true to the situation. This made it a bit more interesting to see what they did here. It didn’t make me love it though.
The film is definitely interesting to watch to see what happened to this young kid, Sean Lockhart. Do I think this is going to be one of those classic gay films that generations of LGBT+ people watch? Probably not. It focuses on the adult entertainment industry too much and a lot of classics simply cannot do that. People want escapism and this does not provide that. It is wonderful to watch once though and it provides an interesting insight to the gay porn world, but it is simply one I wouldn’t want to stay in for very long. The film again while interesting simply did not hold my interest for very long. I think this is because I have never been personally interested in the adult film industry, but have had people from my time in San Francisco that were either in it or interested in it. I gave the film a chance for this reason. It just wasn’t a film for me, but I appreciate what story it was trying to tell and the reason behind it. If I was at a different period of my life, I could have seen myself enjoying this film, but I think where I am currently with learning about my own relationship with relaxation (i.e. seeking permission, watching things I feel others want me to watch, etc.) did not help me with my enjoyment of this film. I can definitely see those that enjoy true crime stories enjoying this and the layers that go into the reasoning that these 2 people killed another, more prolific pornographer. This, again, is available on Netflix streaming, so if you find yourself drawn to this story, it is readily available for viewing. I hope you enjoy it!
(You will notice there is no OTHER on this post, this is because there is nothing appropriate to post in that section. I may find this true on most movie reviews, so the OTHER section may be omitted in future posts for my movie reviews. I will see, as I get further in this process.)