King Cobra: "Nobody Works With Brent, He's Mine"

Director: Justin Kelly
Writer:     Justin Kelly
                D. Madison Savage
Starring: Garrett Clayton
                Christina Slater
                James Franco
                Keegan Allen
                Molly Ringwald
                Alicia Silverstone
Rating:    ****

Release Date: TBC 

This dark and gritty look at the porn industry, and one of it's biggest stars rise to the top is bold, provocative and sexy. Starring a talented cast of actors willing to tackle a true story of greed, jealousy and murder, the film slips up with its rushed ending and sudden conclusion. King Cobra starts strong, but soon loses its momentum and its final moments left me feeling robbed.

Garrett Clayton
Based on the book Cobra Killer by Andrew E. Stoner and Peter A. Conway, we follow the rise of adult movie star Sean Paul Lockhart, a.k.a. Brent Corrigan (Clayton). His rise to the top has been well publicised in the past due to his first film being made when he was underage, and of course the murder of his once manager Bryan Kocis, here named Stephen (Slater). As Brent gets bigger, and Stephen grows jealous and possessive, Brent looks for an escape, which comes in the form of fellow porn producers Joe and Harlow (Franco & Allen). However Stephen owns the name Brent Corrigan, and won't give it up, much to the dismay of the broke pair. In an act of desperation and pent up rage, Joe and Harlow murder Stephen to save themselves and to free Sean from his jealous grasp.

Christian Slater manages to stop Stephen from just coming across as a sleazy old man, and gives him layers and emotional depth. Lacking in self-confidence, and still in the closet to his family, Slater portrays his inner turmoil and struggles with grace and ease. It is when Sean ups and leaves him that Stephen really derails, and Slater brings his performance up a gear, and I felt a constant battle of frustration and empathy for him. He seems to come up with this fantasy life of Brent Corrigan being his partner, and it is often upsetting to see Slater portray a man struggling.

Keegan Allen, who I have only ever seen as good boy Toby in Pretty Little Liars, blew me away as Harlow. Initially he seems like a shallow pretty boy, purely in his messed up relationship purely for superficial reasons. However, you soon discover that his dark past is the reason he depends so heavily on the messed up Joe, and Allen is able to play that perfectly and poignantly. James Franco is sleazy, arrogant and unlikable, so he brings his own qualities to the equally infuriating Joe.

Keegan Allen & James Franco
Of course the star of the film is Garrett Clayton (a former Disney Channel star), who perfectly conveys the many sides of Sean Paul Lockhart and his alter ego. His feigned naivety, slight arrogance and, of course, boyish charm. Clayton fully embraced everything that was asked of him within this role, and brought a nuanced portrayal of a fairly out there character. The final act he truly shines as he goes undercover for the police; his nerves and tense performance create an uncomfortable environment for the audience to watch.

As I mentioned at the top, the script takes a hasty turn in the final moments. They spend so long showing Brent's rise t fame, and the desperate situation Joe and Harlow are in, that after the murder happens, they suddenly realise they have run out of time and just end it. More could have been made of the aftermath I feel, but there was too much focus on gay sex montages and aggressive gym sessions. The direction from Justin Kelly, who also wrote the script, was fast paced, snappy and edgy; something that worked beautifully when mirroring his fast paced rise to fame and helped push the stray along smoothly. King Cobra is an intense thriller, that is full of funny moments, shocking scenes and superb acting; it just should have relished the ending more than it did.

King Cobra - Trailer