Pervs who are movie buffs seem to like movies that incorporate fetish and/or BDSM elements into their storylines in a credible, naturalistic, non-sensationalist way.
But when Hollywood gives us dominatrixes, it tends, for the purpose of mainstream consumption, to depict them as cartoonish übervixens. So it’s usually down to independent film-makers to give us kinksters that we pervs are more likely to consider “real”.
Characters who just happen to have a pervy dimension to their life, and kinky action that doesn’t look like a totally gratuitous addition to provide eye-catching footage for the trailer, are generally appreciated because they tend to depict us more as we’d like to be seen.
They show us as people who happen to be kinky but who, otherwise, are subject to the same life experiences — comic, tragic, whatever — as anyone else.
With his film Justify, Los Angeles-based Korean director Insung Hwang sets out to create a noirish, nihilistic thriller revolving around a young woman whose father was killed by a dominatrix when she was nine.
The young woman, Abby Lombard (Rebecca Larsen), has tried therapy to deal with the psychological legacy of this loss but has now decided that revenge would be the better cure. So she sets out to find Victoria (Heather LeMire), the domme she deems responsible for all her years of pain.
This proves relatively easy. Victoria is still working as a prodomme right there in LA, and also moonlights as the favourite model and muse of portrait artist Thomas Cohen (Jared Sacrey). Abby befriends the artist and through him, soon meets Victoria, whose dungeon apartment is in the loft above his studio.
Victoria, unaware of Abby’s true identity or her agenda, is intrigued by the younger woman and it isn’t long before the two are in her apartment, having a drink and some provocative conversation about pain and pleasure.
Abby, acting sub-curious, allows herself to be handcuffed to the bed, but she can’t keep up the pretence for long. She panics and demands to be released.
The next time the two meet in the apartment, the tables are turned. Abby is waiting, dressed in latex catsuit, boots and pink wig, when Victoria comes home, and demands the domme’s submission. Victoria goes along with it, allowing Abby to strap her to her own St Andrew’s cross and gag her.
It’s only at this point, with Victoria helpless, that Abby decides to reveal her identity, and a lot more, as she lays into the domme with a riding crop. Will Victoria escape Abby’s vengeance? Has Abby already killed? And what is her adoptive father’s guilty secret? You’ll need to watch the movie to get the answers to those questions.
And also to find out whether Abby herself can escape the full effect of the self-destruct button she seems to have pushed, as the story shifts to the concrete basin of the Los Angeles River and finally to its climax amid the rusting detritus of a vehicle wrecker’s yard.
The next time the two meet in the apartment, the tables are turned. Abby is waiting for Victoria, dressed in latex catsuit, boots and pink wig
So what was writer/director Insung Hwang’s inspiration for Justify’s plot? A fascination, it seems, with the different effects of physical and psychological pain, and the way we face the idea of our own death.
“Physical pain, while difficult to bear, is tangible,” he says. “This makes it possible for us to parse the information. However, in the case of psychological pain, the information to be parsed is not always quantifiable.
“Thus, we don’t know how to process this data. There are many cases in the human experience where this psychological pain is experienced. In the larger scope, say in the death of a loved one, the healing may take years. Or in some cases, the healing never occurs.
“In the case of facing one’s own death, this pain is so great that we create vices, fetishes, addictions, or many other deviations and distractions to deal with the ‘problem’ at hand. We live in constant fear and denial of the impending termination.”
The primary function of the brain, he argues, is to create meaning by processing data. And when events are too large for the brain to process, the brain will create scenarios to fabricate a meaning.
“It’s sort of like job-security for the brain. Like an unproductive employee, a damaged brain will create façades of productivity to protect the ego.
“The poet Khalil Gibran says pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. In Justify, Abby Lombard thinks that avenging the death of her father is going to bring resolve to this psychological pain.
“For Abby however, it is simply another nihilistic puzzle created by her ego.”
Making the pervy content of Justify realistic was considerably assisted by the casting of Heather LeMire in the dominatrix role. Heather, we learn, works as a prodomme in real life when she’s not acting in movies.
So when it came to things like teaching Rebecca Larsen how to use a riding crop, there was no need to employ an outside BDSM consultant as other movies usually do, because Justify had its own expert right there on the set.
Furthermore the dungeon apartment film set, complete with Sonny Black St Andrew’s cross, turns out to be no set, but the actual dungeon where Heather plies her other trade.
Finally, for pervs who like to know these things about movies (and there are plenty), Rebecca Larsen’s black latex catsuit came from Syren. And very cute she looks in it too, as you can see from our gallery of production stills!
‘The pain of facing one’s own death is so great that we create vices, fetishes, addictions or many other deviations’ – Insung Hwang