|Released||Feb 22nd, 2017|
|Running Time||159 Min.|
|Director||Jacky St. James|
|Distribution Company||Mile High Media|
|DVD Extras||Behind the Scenes, Still Gallery(ies)|
|Cast||Tommy Pistol, James Deen, Mickey Mod, Michael Vegas, Cherie DeVille, Cassidy Klein, Gia Paige, Riley Nixon|
|Critical Rating||AAAA 1/2|
Now working at a new studio (Mile High’s couples-oriented Sweet Sinner) with a new team (cinematographer Hank Hoffman and second cameraman Ralph Parfait among them), director/writer Jacky St. James is poised to continue her work as one of porn’s preeminent storytellers.
Her reputation was established at New Sensations, where she made the 2016 movie The Submission of Emma Marx: Exposed, which won five AVN Awards this past January. But it’s not fair to compare Darker Side of Desire to the Emma trilogy, on which St. James worked for several years as a passion project—something rarely seen in adult entertainment. Darker Side of Desire, despite its name, offers a lighter take on BDSM, pitched at couples curious about power play and interested in added new dimensions to their sex lives. And that makes this title well worth keeping at the ready in your couples section.
Playing the role of curious newbie is Cassidy Klein as Natalie Ray, who’s enjoying her new relationship with Bryce (Mickey Mod) but finds herself craving something edgier—and even dreaming about it. Their first encounter is a straight-up vanilla couch bounce, but steamy nonetheless. Both performers also have solid acting skill—requisite for a St. James production—and the rest of the cast doesn’t disappoint in that department either, particularly Gia Paige and newcomer Riley Nixon. These two young women explore BDSM in their own ways—one submissive, the other dipping a toe into domination. Performing outside of the movie’s main narrative, Cherie DeVille and Tommy Pistol serve as the exemplar of dom/sub sex, breaking out all the toys to show how it’s done.
Taken together with her other recent titles, such as Interracial Family Needs, Mistress and The Voyeur, Darker Side of Desire makes it clear that St. James has internalized the rhythms of the Sweet Sinner formula and morphed it into something more in line with her vision. It will be interesting, during this year’s awards season, to see which of her movies will offer the best showcase for St. James’ storytelling abilities.