We’re used to the virgin in slasher movies. It’s typically a she and she’s usually the one that survives. Ti West’s homage to that genre and other ones has a little demented fun with that character. There’s not a virgin to be found in X, but there’s one who loses her porn flick virginity.
A prologue clues us in that we’ll see a significant body count in what follows. Set in rural Texas circa 1979, a troupe of six travels to a farmhouse to shoot an adult film. The director RJ (Owen Campbell) fancies it to be a cut above the rest of them (they always do in these pics). His girlfriend Lorraine (Jenna Ortega) is part of the skeleton crew who isn’t thrilled to be on the shoot. On the flip side, Bobby-Lynne (Brittany Snow) and her bf Jackson Hole (Scott Mescudi) are proud to be starring in the feature titled The Farmer’s Daughters. Mia Goth is Maxine, coke addled and desperate to be a star. She’s dating Wayne (Martin Henderson), executive producer of the big show.
The aforementioned farmhouse is owned by elderly couple Howard (Stephen Ure) and Pearl (played by Goth in heavy old age makeup). With a revivalist evangelical TV program playing on their set, we rightly assume they aren’t fully aware of what kind of shenanigans their guests are filming. A slow build leads us to discover plenty of secrets about the couple.
X is most obviously a sadistic love letter to 1974’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre though it telegraphs other influences. It even mentions 1960’s Psycho and how it became a different picture at midpoint. The same can be said here as the one day shoot is completed before a violent night rolls along. Halloween and The Shining get their due as do the cheapie grindhouse and skin flicks of the era it’s set in.
Where X deviates a little from the formula is its occasional rumination on aging. Pearl, in particular, is reminded of what she’s lost in her elder state by the youngsters on her property. Her reaction won’t win her (or the script) any acclaim from the AARP. It does, however, give this a slightly unexpected and intriguing dimension.
My reaction was mixed overall. I found the lighting to be almost too dark at times. That said, there’s one scene in particular (you’ll know) where you’ll be glad it is. While X is well-made and sometimes clever, its biggest fault is a common one for more high minded horror titles. I didn’t find it overly frightening. Furthermore, for a sendup of a brand where the killings are often violently creative – that’s in surprisingly short supply. The most passionate genre disciples will surely sing X‘s praises. I found myself somewhat less devoted.
Set in 1979 and melding the genres of horror with adult filmmaking, Ti West’s X is slated for spots in over 2000 theaters this weekend. The slasher pic (which premiered at South by Southwest days ago) stars Mia Goth, Jenna Ortega (just coming off Scream), Martin Henderson, Brittany Snow, Owen Campbell, and Scott Mescudi (aka Kid Cudi).
Reviews are sharp with a current 100% Rotten Tomatoes score. That said, I do believe its box office potential is limited. Unlike most recent horror titles, it’s not a sequel/remake/prequel/requel. While A24 materials often receives acclaim, they can struggle at multiplexes.
Despite the hefty screen count, I’ll project this struggles to reach $3 million.
Blogger’s Note (12/20/17): I am revising my PP3 estimate from $40.6 million for the four-day to $33.6 million.
The Bellas are back for the holidays as PitchPerfect3 hits theaters next Friday. Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Alexis Knapp, and Hana Mae Lee are among returnees alongside Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins. Newcomers to the series include Ruby Rose and John Lithgow. Trish Sie directs.
The 2012 original was a sleeper hit which grossed $65 million and then became more of a sensation once it became available for home viewing. The summer 2015 sequel shocked all prognosticators with a $69 million opening weekend (topping its predecessor’s entire domestic run) and $184 million overall.
It’s no surprise therefore that Universal Pictures wanted a third helping of accapella comedy. Two and a half years later, Pitch3 faces competition even in its own musical genre with Hugh Jackman’s TheGreatestShowman debuting two days prior. That said, the Bellas appear to have a built-in audience and it could be dangerous to underestimate them.
I still believe Pitch2 could turn out to be the high water mark in the franchise. A debut in the low to mid 40s would probably put part 3 in the #3 spot behind the second weekend of StarWars and the first for Jumanji: WelcometotheJungle. Yet with its reported smallish budget of $45 million, that should still be music to the studio’s ears.
PitchPerfect3 opening weekend prediction: $33.6 million (Friday to Monday estimate)
For my Jumanji: WelcometotheJungle prediction, click here:
In 2012, the musical comedy Pitch Perfect became a sleeper hit at the box office grossing $65 million and becoming an even larger success when it reached the home video market. Three years later its sequel has earned a plum summer release and considerably higher expectations.
Returning cast members Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, and Brittany Snow are in the mix along with Hailee Steinfeld and a new director, Hunger Games actress Elizabeth Banks. While Mad Max and The Avengers will duke it out for the male audience, Pitch Perfect 2 should score with females and teens.
There is little question that this sequel should easily eclipse the domestic gross of its predecessor. It could find itself in a close race with the aforementioned Max. I think it’ll earn a bit less but Universal Pictures should be quite pleased with the results.
Pitch Perfect 2 opening weekend prediction: $42 million