One year in, Bree Mills’s latest feature explores lust, loneliness and [dis]connection in a plagued society.
Bree Mills’s Black Mirror-inspired Future Darkly series has tackled themes like AI, VR gaming and robotics. In her latest full-length feature, the science fiction is brought much closer to home, with four stories focusing on the different impulses and human needs that the pandemic has created.
In Laura’s Delivery, a pandemic twist on the typical porno delivery man script, a bored Scarlit Scandal seduces attractive postman Brent (Jake Adams), while trapped in a house caring for a sick patient. The story amps up the threat of contagion, focusing on forbidden touch as the delivery man pulls down his mask, remove his gloves, and caresses her. Laura repeats mindfulness mantras to herself to justify her actions, highlighting the problem with media telling us to discover new things in lockdown. In other words, how do we ‘find ourselves’ if that self is a sexual being?
In Anthony’s Date, a single man (Michael Vegas) struggles with isolation and touch starvation, a melancholy existence that reflects so many’s reality. He finds an AI companion, Aurora (Ana Foxxx), his own version of Scarlett Johansson’s soothingly alluring OS in Her. Anthony finds the motivation and compassion he needs in Aurora, steering conversations away from sex to keep her as his perfect ‘good girl’. His desire for connection is understandable, it’s human. Why shouldn’t AI be used to create companionship when it’s needed?
In Kate and the Free Man, Cherie DeVille battles crippling cleanliness anxiety, obsessively scrubbing her home all day. She becomes plagued by dark fantasises about a hyper-macho anti-masker (Dick Chibbles), who doesn’t “give a flying fuck about no virus.” The Kate of her dreams is seductive and carefree, wants to be touched, licked, spit on. Her fantasises illuminate the conflict inside all of us, the human desire to be free versus the need to be safe.
Mills’s Future Darkly and Pure Taboo films rarely have a happy ending. In the final film Anna and Alex, however, there is a glimmer of hope. A couple (Lola Fae and Lucky Fae) are elated when they hear restrictions have been lifted, finally able to meet again. They come together in hazmat suits, unsure and nervous, and removing their masks in a facial striptease that’s hilarious but also sweetly romantic. We’re reminded just how lovely it is just to see a loved one in real life; their smiles alone are erotic.
While many of the scenarios depicted are familiar, playing with the reality of the last 12 months, the focus on extreme sanitation measures, cold, eerie lighting and a dramatic orchestral score create a Sci Fi movie out of it. It’s therefore easier to watch. Just like when everyone watched Contagion last March, the dramatic version of our own reality can become entertainment even as we’re experiencing it.
When I spoke to Mills back in May, she outlined her plans for Adult Time and how they wanted to ‘do porn differently’ – from live shows, to educational content, to bigger budget adult films that reach a wider audience. To that end, the full SFW versions of her feature films are made available for free on YouTube, demonstrating how they can be enjoyed as works of entertainment in their own right.
With great performances and impressive direction (done remotely via Zoom), Pandemic is an unsettling, yet intriguingly hopeful cinematic experience. It shows us the mental struggles we have all tried to ignore, but remains hopeful by starting to place them in the past. It may not be over, but we can reflect and try to move forward with some compassion and understanding of the intimacy we all need. We’re only human.