On the basis of Neon Flesh, writer/director Paco Cabezas really loves Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, except he wishes it had done more to celebrate misogynistic immorality. Ricky (Mario Casas) decides that, to please the hooker mother (Macarena Gómez) who abandoned him on the streets at twelve and who’s now getting out of prison, he’ll open up a brothel for her, aided by his friends Angelito (Vicente Romero) and the Kid (Luciano Cáceres). This plan comes to involve the help of a transvestite and the purchase of some skanky prostitutes whom Ricky and Angelito gladly abuse and exploit, including the cold-hearted decision to sell a young African woman’s baby, and then sell her into porn slavery. More problematic still, it greatly infuriates a local crime boss (Darío Grandinetti) who has a monopoly on the area’s sex trade. Cabezas delivers the ensuing orgy of guns, screwing and swearing with derivative flash (split screens, transitional wipes, character-intro title cards), thereby cementing his material as just another Tarantino photocopy without unique style or verve. In fact, the only distinguishing characteristic of Neon Flesh – which also, in an amazingly inane twist, has Ricky’s plans complicated by his mom not remembering him due to early-onset Alzheimer’s – is its disgust for women, whom it unironically reduces, in a manner just like its dully hateful protagonists, to blow-up doll punching bags whose sole purpose is whoring themselves so that unrepentant Ricky might finally acquire his mommy’s love.
2011 Tribeca Film Festival