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.
It’s been nearly a decade since Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman were terrorized by sadistic home invaders in TheStrangers. The horror flick turned into an unexpected hit early in the summer of 2008 with a $20 million opening and $52 million overall domestic gross.
With a new cast and director in tow, long gestating sequel TheStrangers: PreyatNight enters theaters next weekend. Johannes Roberts, who directed his own surprise hit 47MetersDown just last summer, is behind the camera with a cast led by Christina Hendricks and Martin Henderson.
The question here is rather simple: will audiences have enough of a memory or fondness for the original to turn up? The horror genre has certainly seen its share of impressive performers lately and it could potentially fill the market niche.
That said, I’m skeptical. I’ll estimate that Prey earns less than half of what its predecessor accomplished some 10 years ago.
TheStrangers: PreyatNight opening weekend prediction: $7.9 million
Arriving the week before Easter, the Christian themed drama Miracles from Heaven is out on Wednesday and hopes to bring in a faith based audience. Based on a true story and bestselling novel by Christy Beam, Jennifer Garner stars as a mom whose young daughter suffering from a rare disorder experiences a miraculous cure. Costars include Kylie Rogers, Martin Henderson, and Queen Latifah.
Miracles arrived amidst a series of Christian dramas that includes Risen, The Young Messiah, and God’s Not Dead 2 on April 1. There are signs that this could be the best performer. The novel has a following and this seeks to capitalize on its pre Easter release date.
I’ll predict Heaven achieves a mid teens gross over the traditional weekend and could reach above $20M over the five day rollout.
Miracles from Heaven opening weekend prediction: $15.8 million (Friday to Sunday), $20.8 million (Wednesday to Sunday)
For my The Divergent Series: Allegiant prediction, click here: