Michael Ninn has come a long way in the adult film industry from his early days as an Andrew Blake acolyte for Western Visuals (PRINCIPLES OF LUST, TWO SISTERS) through personal meditations on the nature of love and commercialized sex (BLACK ORCHID, SEX 1 & 2) to the non-linear approach of the movies he currently releases under the NinnWorx moniker for European company Private. His most fruitful period may be the brief spell he collaborated with that other distinctive voice in dirty moviedom, Antonio Passolini (aka Johnny Jump-Up), yielding the instant classics LATEX and SHOCK as well as the unjustly maligned NEW WAVE HOOKERS 5, though detractors are always quick to point out that these flicks are more attributable to Passolini than Ninn. Nonsense, I say, for that would be to overlook the darkness of spirit that liberally overflows in the best of Ninn's other works including DARK GARDEN, FOREVER NIGHT and this RITUAL.
Exhibiting a style and polish that very few in the adult field can touch, Ninn plunges the viewer into the garbled mind of a porno superstar played by the imperious Vicca, effectively deglamorized in the connecting asylum footage. Interestingly, the character name of "Katherine Yale" is only used on the box cover blurb. In the movie itself as well as its final credits, she is nameless. As the film opens, we find her being questioned by a very creepy looking Tyce Buné as to what pushed her over the edge, giving way to a disparate series of pornographic tableaux (to call them mere sex scenes would be to undersell their sheer exquisiteness) illustrating the woman's state of mind. A word of warning might be in order at this point. If you expect to quit this movie any wiser as to what really drove Vicca to insanity, you'd better stick to the straight and narrow of mainstream Hollywood or, at the very least, late night cable crap such as the Shannon Tweed howler DARK DANCER. Ninn provides delicately wrapped eye candy of the highest order, occasionally and ever so gently brushing up against the cerebellum, suggesting rather than stating.
The sex, none of it conventional, runs the gamut from tenderly passionate (Danielle Rogers and Randy Spears in the eerie "Mr Milky" sitcom send-up) to down 'n' dirty yet always immaculately styled (the all girl pile-up of Vicca, Katja Kean, Dee, Keri Windsor and about a gallon of liquid latex). Lauren Alexander's characteristically excellent music (second only to the sterling work she did on Ninn's CASHMERE) draws the viewer into another realm, hypnotic through its repeated rhythms, alternately seductive and unnerving.
The ending is perfect though understated. There is no beginning or end to the nightmare. Just when you think you might get a grasp on the how and why, you're looped right back to the start in a neat analogy to the origins of pornographic cinema. Ninn's stubborn refusal to clarify the enigma only serves to strengthen the beautiful mystery he has granted us in this case. This movie will haunt my mind for many moons yet to come.
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