Gorno: An American Tragedy (2004)

Rating: D

Dir: Oliver Assiran, Les Norris
Star: Lucas Corcoran, John Foster, Justin Gurazzi, Billy Marshall

Despite what the title might suggest, it’s less a mixture of gore and porn than a riff on things like Gummo, most obviously, or the work of Larry Clark. The ugly depiction of suburban American life, in the least flattering way possible, is not a subgenre for which I have a lot of time. When it’s executed with such a lack of basic proficiency, then my interest shrinks even further. The focus here is on Kelly Brady (Corcoran), a fifteen-year-old whose ambitions of spree killing are only thwarted by the lack of a firearm. His father (Marshall) is bizarrely gay, and Kelly’s sister was killed and decapitated during a teenage party in the woods.

Actually, Corcoran isn’t the worst thing here, playing the disaffected teen in a way that checks all the boxes, albeit in a /r/Im14andthisisdeep kind of way. The problem is mostly the parade of bizarre supporting characters that occupy most of the film’s running time. Not the least of whom are two documentary film-makers “Oliver North” and “Chuck Norris”, played by the directors, who are working on a project about the murdered girl. The plot (insert obvious “such as it is” comment here), has someone going around killing those who were at the party. You’ll probably figure out the person responsible before the film reveals it. Well, providing you have been paying attention, which might be the toughest part of the whole equation.

For there’s hardly a single person here that is not a complete loser. The least appalling might be “Jak the Satanist” (Gurazzi), who comes over as the least maladjusted person, much the same way Marilyn Manson did in Bowling for Columbine [not exactly a position which has aged well!]. It’s a very low bar to clear here though, when you have a guy who thinks he’s a vampire, a cop who gets off by urinating on suspects, a butcher who is so incompetent he severs his own fingers, etc. This is all carried out with an utter disdain for these characters, and the poor production values severely limit even the shock value. Hard to be outraged when you frequently can barely hear what they are saying.

I can certainly see the point from which this emerged. I’m going to go out on not much of a limb. and guess at least one of the creators was bullied at school. If this provided catharsis for that experience, and gave them an alternative to going Columbine, then I guess the film served a worthwhile purpose. It’s hardly likely to offer much for anyone else, even those who went through the same experience. Any lessons offered appear to be of the felonious kind, with Kelly not what you’d call an admirable role-model. Dropping in quotes from Charles Bukowski and Neil Young (!) don’t help. If you squint really hard, you could perhaps see this as satire, depicting ugliness in an appropriately ugly way. However, I strongly suspect any such meaningful commentary is entirely accidental.