Thursday, 17 November 2016


It's not for nothing that we viewers get a serious kick out of porn, often especially porn featuring performers only recently of age. There's something quite thrilling in the exhibition of a young person only newly aware of a particular practice, skill or ability, yet brazenly unabashed and remarkably mature; this thrill only amplified when it's accompanied by the added taboo of homosexuality. It's in this understanding of the gay male attitude toward sex and sexual expression that King Cobra finds its fuel, though Justin Kelly sadly insists upon fuelling a regressive exercise in shallow salacity and sensationalization, contributing to the problematic character of that attitude both from the society without and the society within. Willing neither to explore psychological depth nor to expose genuine physical titillation in the pursuit of meaningful arousal, Kelly crafts King Cobra as a vacuous appropriation of style and a muddled attempt at provoking scandal. Though engaging and enjoyable, the film's stylistic motifs never truly coalesce, too inauthentic in their concept and too sporadic in their application; with an unambitious approach to narrative and character development, most everything herein is eventually overcome with either familiarity and/or banality. Occasional spurts of bizarre black humour seem to signify a will to turn King Cobra into an instant cult classic, perhaps like a gay Showgirls (as if it isn't already gay enough); these fail, since what worked for Paul Verhoeven then was directly due to his being in possession of genuine artistic impulses, of which Kelly is largely lacking. Comedy is provided from other sources, though, including a winning performance by Keegan Allen (the less said about James Franco's involvement, however, the better). But King Cobra thus only supplies us viewers with our kicks here and there, and with no lasting impact.