X Review

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.

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 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 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.

**1/2 (out of four)

Gretel & Hansel Box Office Prediction

Another film version of the grim German fairy tale hits theaters next weekend with Gretel & Hansel. The fantasy horror flick comes from director Oz Perkins and he’s the son of Norman Bates himself – the late Psycho star Anthony Perkins. Sophia Lillis, Sam Leakey, Charles Babalola, and Alice Krige lead the cast.

This offering comes six years after Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters with Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton bowed in late January to a $19 million premiere. The inversely titled 2020 interpretation is not anticipated to get anywhere near that. For one thing, we just saw a version of the this in 2013. There’s also been plenty of horror pics for audiences to choose from recently.

Considering that, I believe double digits is highly unlikely and mid single digits is most probable.

Gretel & Hansel opening weekend prediction: $5.1 million

For my The Rhythm Section prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/23/the-rhythm-section-box-office-prediction/

Remaking Hitchcock

There’s a segment in Gone Girl where the bizarre relationship between Rosamund Pike and Neil Patrick Harris comes to a rather memorable end. This sequence contains a mix of sex and violence that would’ve made Alfred Hitchcock proud. It’s the kind of scene that the master director probably would’ve loved to film had the time he was making movies allowed it.

This is why, for the first time, a remake of a Hitchcock classic actually doesn’t sound like a bad idea. It was announced this week that Gone Girl’s director – the brilliant David Fincher – will helm a remake of Strangers on a Train, Hitch’s 1951 effort. The screenwriter is Gillian Flynn, who of course wrote the Gone Girl book and its screenplay. Ben Affleck will star.

If there’s anyone out there who could pull off the daunting task of remaking Hitchcock, it’s Fincher. Having said that, the last time an Oscar nominated auteur attempted the same feat… well, it failed miserably.

Gus Van Sant, who was fresh off Oscar attention for Good Will Hunting, made the infamously terrible decision to do a shot for shot remake of Hitchcock’s Psycho. Audiences and critics alike didn’t understand why and it struggled at the box office.

Psycho was released in 1998, as were two other Hitch remakes that also made little impression. A Perfect Murder took on 1954’s Dial M for Murder and starred Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow. It did better financially than Psycho but couldn’t hold a candle to its source material.

On the television front, Christopher Reeve appeared in one of his final roles headlining a rehash of Rear Window. While Reeve received positive notices, the picture itself didn’t.

Indeed the director who’s probably had the greatest success remaking Alfred Hitchcock is Alfred Hitchcock. In 1956, he released The Man Who Knew Too Much with James Stewart and Doris Day to solid box office results. 22 years earlier in England was his even more acclaimed original with Peter Lorre.

I’ll say this: Gone Girl is a movie that Hitchcock probably would have found highly enjoyable. The fact that its team is now involved in a direct homage to the filmmaker is certainly going to be interesting to watch.