Alas, it’s not a film charting the highs and lows of Scotland’s most enduring punk act, but the latest low-budget genre effort to feature a cameo role from porn legend Ron Jeremy ...

EXPLOITED attempts to pass itself of as a documentary. Directed by the enigmatically named Moses, it begins with footage of aspiring model Mercedes (portrayed by, well, Mercedes ...). She’s 18 and speaks to the handheld camera as she applies make-up, telling of how she’s always wanted to be famous for being on the cover of mainstream magazines.

Without further ado, the camera follows her to a low-key photo shoot which the bubbly brunette hopes will prove to be the first step on her road to fame. "I can’t wait for ... the next step of my career" she coos naively, "this is just the beginning of it".

These fully-clothed shoots continue in empty warehouses and hotel corridors. Mercedes smiles as she tells the screen that the lifestyle she has adopted – travelling alone from shoot to shoot, living in hotel rooms – is worth it, for this opportunity to build a portfolio of modelling work.

Shortly afterwards, the camera follows Mercedes into an agent’s office where he flicks through her portfolio and tells her "your look is definitely not mainstream". Dismissing her as "rougher", he wishes her the best but declines to employ her as a model.

This is just the first in a line of rejections for Mercedes.

Before long, Mercedes’ goalposts have moved and she has convinced herself that she’s comfortable with the pin-up work she is being offered. Finally working as a model, the work entails her dressing in lingerie and draping herself over sports cars. It’s not what she originally had in mind, but she insists that the money is good and the shoots make her feel sexy.

Later, after attending a pot party with a couple of photographers from her latest shoot, Mercedes is more candid on camera when she’s high. She reveals that the money isn’t that good after all, and she needs to earn more if she is to pursue her original dream of becoming famous.

With almost depressing inevitability, the next scene finds Mercedes on the set of a naked photo shoot: she’s decided to reveal all, in the hope of reaping more rewards. Afterwards, she continues to reason into the camera that all is okay – she’s comfortable being nude, so why not get paid for it etc.

From here, Mercedes spirals headlong down a familiar, well-trod path into increased drug-taking (she loses her cocaine virginity on screen) and the move into hardcore pornography – taking in an alarming extreme bondage shoot along the way. It’s worth noting that the scenes shot on the sets of the porno shoots blank out any explicit detail with black rectangles.

It’s also in the porno segments that we meet Ron Jeremy, as himself, whose chance to work with Mercedes is scuppered by her nerves, which lead to her being drunk on set. She gets nauseous and is thrown off set.

The drug-taking gets more severe as the jobs become more and more outlandish – all the while, the camera silently thrusting itself in Mercedes’ face for her comments. Something’s got to give ... and it does ...

From the very beginning, Moses blows his cover of documentarian with an alternately ominous and sombre score that underlines Mercedes’ overly optimistic comments, and stalk ’n’ slash-style handheld camerawork that follows its subject from one dark environment and into the next.

The performances are mostly naturalistic, lending some scenes a real sense of authenticity: I imagine much of the dialogue was ad-libbed. Odd scenes that do seem scripted – such as when Mercedes is asked to double as a fluffer on one porno shoot – seem wooden in comparison and really pull the viewer out of the conceit.

Ugly, dark and mean-spirited, EXPLOITED is a depressing film despite the fact that we know it’s not the genuine article. It’s competently made and will no doubt fool the more casual viewer. They will doubtless be thankful for the redemptive character arc that ends the picture ... but only after we’ve suffered some harsh scenarios.

Presented in 1.85:1 and letterboxed in non-anamorphic, the picture here is generally soft with wavering black levels and rather faint colours during interior scenes. Although not the best picture quality, it could be argued that these shortcomings lend themselves to the documentary-style format.

English 2.0 audio is good throughout.

The disc opens to a static main menu page. From there, a static scene-selection menu allows access to the film via a whopping 26 chapters.

Extras begin with just under 7 minutes of deleted scenes. These include more photo shoots and extended versions of scenes that made the final cut of the film.

A generous photo slideshow runs for over 3 minutes and is set to an annoyingly repetitive techno score.

"Ron’s Magic Trick" finds the most famous living legend of porn revealing the art of appearing to go from flaccid to erect in a split second. Unfortunately, a POV camera angle and ugly black censorial bar prevent us from learning the trick for ourselves. This pointless feature runs for all of 25 seconds.

A trailer gallery proffers previews for EXPLOITED, DEFILED, FACES OF SCHLOCK and DIARY OF A SEX OFFENDER.

EXPLOITED is a reasonably well-made film on the technical front. Its attempts at passing off its voyeuristic account of an impressionable young wannabe’s downward spiral is tasteless; the film’s failure to convince either redeems it, or ruins it, depending upon your point of view.

Review by Stuart Willis

Region 1 - NTSC
Not Rated
Extras :
see main review