“Come What May”

PORTRAITS OF ANDREA PALMER is a kaleidoscopic 16mm pornographic film shrouded in a deep horror aesthetic which allures spectators into its confrontational construct, forcing viewers to bare witness to a sorted tale of a troubled sex worker as she travels a path towards the gallows through a shattered mosaic of degradation passing for Andrea Palmer’s existence.

PORTRAITS plays out like an averse memoir with a stereotypical pornographic plot found in most adult features: a young woman, sympathetic in her optimism, heads to the west coast to fulfill dreams of becoming rich and hopefully find a contention of happiness in her life while meeting a surplus of memorable side characters that aid or harm the protagonist throughout her sexual encounters.

Andrea Palmer’s character, performed with an intense measure by the talented Katrina Zova, tries to find work as a camgirl, selling herself for free to anonymous onlookers who watch her perform basic sex acts that seem tame in comparison to the normality of what can be easily found online, but after hopelessly searching for funds a mysterious offer finds Andrea drawn to the west coast to a manifested destiny of endless sunny days, beautiful people and the deep facades that mask La-La-Land hidden beneath the false projections of perfection.

The sex depicted within PORTRAITS flows throughout the narrative like a bullet tears through the flesh of a slain animal fleeing its fate. Zova’s parade of sexual and stylized musings allows a intimate glimpse into the eyes of a reclusive grace seldom found in adult entertainment. Zova’s performance contains a colorful range, solidifying her among the top actresses in her field.

The ravishing Sheena Rose is featured in a scene-stealing sequence with Katrina Zova as Rose’s seductive eyes engage a silent desire of exploration that awaken carnal desires from Andrea Palmer. Sheena Rose’s perfect body delicately wraps itself around each frame of 16mm film like a coiled snake, showcasing her voluptuous symmetry of loveliness and head-turning eroticism.

Andrea’s arrival into her new world finds her almost joyful as the tones of the film shift to the realms of a happiness she may have never beheld … until she is met face to face with the grim realities of what amateur sex workers are up against including incalculable harassment, nefarious characters and increasingly violent assaults as the story begins to take abrupt turns towards the twisted nature of humanity.

PORTRAITS OF ANDREA PALMER is also a horror genre-related endeavor displaying moments of utter shock while casting glorious images marked with cutting causes of unease that only increase as Andrea continues down her faithless path.

In particular there’s one sexual assault that’s so effective in its delivery that one’s gaze or attention might be entangled in the splendid dynamic of the moment between the two actors, forgetting you’re witnessing a deplorable at-knife-point rape scene that’s perfectly executed.

As the semen and gore-soaked final images wrap up the events depicted within the film, a cathartic sense of fleeting satisfaction finally grips Andrea Palmer as the destiny that manifested itself within her is laid to rest, bound in a grand gesture of self-sacrifice to complete her journey.

PORTRAITS OF ANDREA PALMER is the feature film collaborative debut from creators J. Lyons and C. Huston and the co-creators allow their fiction to unfold with a unique sense of constant movement as these two maverick storytellers propel their fragmented scenes into a frenzied, loathsome climax shot in a strange design reminiscent of an Italian horror film from the ’70s. The sound design by Vince Roth, cinematography by Joe Rubin and the editing by Louis Justin are all flawless and each are accompanied by chaotic music written and performed by Michael Parsons, which delivers an atmospheric gallery of static energy that transcends the typical adult film soundscapes into musical works devoid of forward emotional progression before releasing manic tidal waves of epic grandeur.

PORTRAITS genuinely feels raw, like a film shot in the elder days of the seventies porn scene and its refreshing style doesn’t feel as if it’s a forced throwback which seems to be a common pitfall of young directors striving to recapture the lost tones of the past cinematic Grindhouse Culture and PORTRAITS OF ANDREA PALMER proudly stands alongside such controversial pornographic films such as Forced Entry, Water Power or the classic AVON distributions that excelled in producing porno with taboo subject matter and themes that have granted these “roughies” cult classic status in the underground film subculture.

Mixing softer introspective dialogues inside this penetrating tale of lust makes for an unsettling pace for such a depraved tale but these simple, quiet moments allow an almost subconscious demand to sit and wait for the credits to roll – hand in hand with Katrina Zova – feeling the touch of Andrea’s plight in life which has become a complex tragedy.

PORTRAITS OF ANDREA PALMER is an enthralling work of raw, confrontational filmmaking.

Posted by Ryan Logsdon

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