‘Mope’ Trailer Explores Bizarre True Story About Killer Porn Star with Samurai Sword

     June 3, 2020

mope-movie-trailer-lucas-heyne-porn-star-samurai-sword

Early in the quarantine, when I was compiling a list of movies to watch, I remembered one about a porn star who attacked his co-workers with a samurai sword. The problem was, I couldn’t recall the title. I put out a friendly call for help on Twitter, and within minutes was told that the movie I was searching for was called Mope, and it still hadn’t been released yet despite a well-reviewed festival run.

I looked up the film’s director, Lucas Heyne, and realized that I knew his manager, Zach Cox at Circle of Confusion, so I called in a favor and a couple days later, I was watching Mope. It didn’t take long to realize why the film hadn’t found distribution yet. Within two minutes, it was fairly evident that this movie was completely unreleasable in theaters in its current form. No ifs, ands or buts (well, maybe a few butts) about it — completely unreleasable. And in all likelihood, the filmmakers knew that going in. This movie was not intended to play in an AMC auditorium next to the Minions sequel. But… it boasts a hell of a story, and one that should be able to find an audience, since few things sell like sex and violence.

mope-movie-trailer-lucas-heyne-porn-star-samurai-sword

So I tip my cap to Quiver Distribution — which is also behind the equally graphic Kevin James thriller Becky — for riding to the rescue of Mope, which will be finally released on VOD on June 16. This is a smart pick-up, because this is the kind of midnight movie that many people won’t be able to resist. I’ll let the distributor describe this lurid true crime tale first.

“In the multibillion-dollar world of pornography, the term “mope” refers to a low-level, wannabe porn actor. They’re the lowest of the low, hanging around sets and taking on menial jobs with aspirations of becoming huge stars. In this tragic true story, Stephen Clancy Hill and Herbert Wong, respectively known by their porn alter egos Steve Driver and Tom Dong, were two such mopes — real-life best friends attempting to live the impossible dream, but the blurred line between reality & delusion ultimately sent them both tumbling down a path of destruction.”

That’s a fancy way of saying, this is a movie about wanna-be porn stars who spent their careers getting kicked in the nuts, until one of them decided to kick back, with deadly consequences. Honestly, I can safely say I’ve never seen a movie like quite like Mope. You can practically taste the stale sweat on its performers, and smell the characters’ pathetic desperation to make it in “showbiz.”

A big reason that Mope works as well as it does is its performances. Nathan Stewart-Jarrett and Kelly Sry are both terrific as Steve Driver and Tom Dong, helping the two mopes come across as vulnerable, complicated human beings with real hopes and dreams. There are also standout supporting turns from Brian Huskey, Max Adler, and David Arquette as a porn auteur who doesn’t appreciate Steve’s bid-for-stardom shtick.

Mope is a wholly unique experience that doesn’t shy away from the lurid indignities of the porn industry. If I had to compare it to another movie, it’d be Party Monster, except this film is actually good. It also reminded me of Chuck Palahniuk‘s novel Snuff, which is begging to be turned into a movie at some point. Mope has style to spare, and feels like a promising sign of things to come from the talented Heyne, who co-wrote the script with Zack Newkirk, based on a story by Michael Louis Albo and David C. Hill.

Watch the trailer below, and if you’re curious to learn more about this tragic tale, click here to check out our interview with Heyne and the cast at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

Latest News