Sex scenes are finally making a comeback in cinema
"Sex is so much at the core of who we are, and so if you want to make films about people, you have to explore sex."
Back in the 80s and 90s, you could barely go a month with a huge new adult thriller topping the box office charts. Dressed To Kill, Body Heat, Jagged Edge, 8 & 1/2 Weeks, Body Double, Fatal Attraction, Presumed Innocent, A Kiss Before Dying, Consenting Adults, Single White Female, Unlawful Entry, Posion Ivy, Malice, Basic Instinct, The Crush, Indecent Proposal, Disclosure, The Last Seduction... the list goes on and on and on.
The genre essentially died off, some blame the one-two punch flops of Showgirls and Jade, but much more likely was the advent of the internet, which allowed the dissemination of adult entertainment in the privacy of your own home. Hollywood has at different times, and under different guises, attempted to bring the genre back: To Die For, Mulholland Drive, Eyes Wide Shut, The Boy Next Door, the Fifty Shades Trilogy, Deep Water, Don't Worry Darling... all to varying degrees of commercial or critical success, but never both, and usually neither.
However, the tide appears to turning once again, perhaps off the back of two years of pandemic and people being told not to touch anyone and keep your distance, but Horny Hollywood is back. Netflix had a series of massive series of hits thanks to the (actually awful in every way imaginable) 365 Days Trilogy, and this month sees the one-two arrival of Pearl and Infinity Pool.
Both movies feature some explicit scenes of sex, explicit scenes of violence, fantastic creative teams behind the scenes, and both feature jaw-dropping performances by Mia West. In the run-up to the release of these movies, we caught up with Mia and her Infinity Pool co-star Alexander Skarsgård, and you can check out that interview in full right here:
When we asked Mia Goth about her thoughts on the tide change of audiences in regards to sex and sexuality been explicitly represented on the big screen, she told us the following:
"If there is a turn taking place, it is probably to do with a retaliation against such censorship that is taking place. People are walking such a tightrope these days over the right thing to say and the right way to express themselves, and it can be quite stifling at times. And I think if you're going to make anything of merit, if you're going to create anything, it has to be acceptable for their to be a likelihood of offending and taking risks. If we're seeing any sort of tide change, it is most likely in retaliation to that, which is a good thing.
"And that is why I also think it is important for movies like this, and really any movie, to be seen in a theatre with a group of people. So when you're watching something on screen, and there is an audience member next to you that finds a certain moment funny that you didn't connect with in the same way, it makes you question that experience. It makes you wonder why they had that reaction and you didn't. I think that is vital."
We also caught up with Infinity Pool writer and director Bradon Cronenberg, son of legendary horror director David Cronenberg, and you can check out that interview in full right here:
When we pointed out to Brandon that erotic thrillers were so huge in the 90s but then died off, but it was clear that it was something were very interested in making a decent comeback, he told us the following:
"It is interesting you say that, because I keep having people approach me and say 'The adult thriller is back!', and I think we're going to get a wave of these erotic thrillers because there is a certain behind-the-scenes buzz in the industry right now, like it is about to be the 90s again. I guess that 90s are back in style, in terms of music and fashion, so the thought is why not also the erotic thriller.
"More broadly though, I think to see something is different from knowing technically that it happened. Film is a very visceral medium, and I don't buy that it is the some thing. I think to see something completely changes your mood, it changes or contextualises the next part of the film, because it puts you into a different emotional state, you feel it viscerally.
"I get this question more with violence, 'Do you have to show the violence?' You don't have to, but if you feel on a visceral level what those characters are going through, that really changes your experience of the film from that point on. Personally, I feel that erotic art can be incredibly beautiful, it can be incredibly moving, it can tap into a certain part of our humanity. Sex is so much at the core of who we are, and so if you want to make films about people, you have to explore sex."
Pearl is in cinemas right now, while Infinity Pool arrives in Irish cinemas on Friday, 24 March.
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