Review: Xero (2010)


Director: Jack the Zipper | 66 minutes | eroticism | Actors: Franziska Facella, Jayme Langford, Devi Lynne, Jade Starr

Porn as art? Is such a statement going too far? Maybe, but Jack the Zipper’s “Xero” (well, do something about those ridiculous pseudonyms first if you want to be respected as a filmmaker) goes a long way. It is a fairly abstract porn film with hypnotic, and yes, certainly sexually stimulating, images, using a wide cinematic and photographic palette, and a captivating soundtrack with all kinds of original sounds and atmospheres. With such a serious description, the average porn lover might ask himself: “Yes, but is that horny?” Yes, that’s hot. Although, perhaps not enough for the real hardcore fanatic, nor for spectators who think there should always be a man in a sex film, but for many other sex-loving viewers there is certainly something to enjoy. The experts at AVN – Adult Video News – apparently agreed, having nominated “Xero” for four of their annual awards, including the prize for best “tease performance”.

Still, you have to be patient to fully enjoy “Xero”. You must also really like to be “teased” for a long time. Until it becomes almost unbearable. But in its own way, “Xero” works fine. Taken on their own, some episodes in “Xero” may be artificial and long-winded, but the same scenes can be fascinating and enchanting at the same time. Some pieces are played backwards, regularly in slow motion, or in a loop. Wind machines make hair fly, and an interesting shadow play ensures that we never see too much in certain scenes but are always kept curious. The director clearly likes to experiment and apply cinematic or photographic tricks, such as a photo-negative image, or a kaleidoscopic mirror effect, where a woman performs erotic acts with an exotic mask (with a large, phallic nose) and the net looks like she is engaged in a sexual act with a twin sister. It sounds simple and unlikely, but it has a surprisingly stimulating effect.

Don’t panic for the “old school” porn fanatic: there is also penetration (without real dicks, admittedly) and oral “communication”, but “Xero” generally has a somewhat more abstract approach. No hard pounding or wild ejaculations in this film, but beautiful naked – or scantily clad, or showing only slightly bare legs – women who hypnotize and tease the viewer with their hip movements or tender touches. There is also not a single moaning to be heard, just the varied, atmospheric soundtrack of Rockford Kabine. The director also sees porn as the “punk rock” of cinema and sees it as the ultimate genre to experiment with film. This is a man who says he is inspired by Stanley Kubrick, Salvador Dali and David Lynch, and more within the erotic or porn genre by the Japanese Pink cinema and Andrew Blake. He clearly wants to bridge the gap between “conventional” surrealist cinema and the pornographic genre. It may seem a bit pretentious here and there – should the strange suspension and black leather and gas mask-clad Avenger suggest depth, or is it just plain fetishism? – but it is almost a compliment if this word can be used in combination with the word “porn movie”. “Xero” may not be deep, but it is certainly interesting and – especially after discovering and accepting the rhythm of the film – also very sexy.