Ti West’s deranged and frequently effective horror movie concerns a group of amateur filmmakers who rent a remote farmhouse to shoot a low-budget porn film.
Unfortunately for them, they’re characters in an entirely different kind of movie.
Cast and Crew
Director and Writer: Ti West
Mia Goth as Maxine “Max” Minx and Pearl
Jenna Ortega as Lorraine
Brittany Snow as Bobby-Lynne
Scott Mescudi as Jackson Hole
Martin Henderson as Wayne Gilroy
Owen Campbell as RJ Nichols
Stephen Ure as Howard
James Gaylyn as Sheriff Dentler
In 1979, a small group, hip to the nascent straight-to-video market, head to a remote rented farmhouse to make a porn movie. Since they’re in a horror movie and they’ve gone to a remote location owned by a creepy old couple, you can guess that their shooting schedule may require some reworking, and it’s doubtful they will all be returning home.
Mia Goth plays a double role here, the young and beautiful Max Minx and the aged, emotionally-damaged psycho-biddy Pearl. She’s great as both; Pearl is brilliant and tragic, credible even in the film’s constructed and darkly comic world.
The make-up for Pearl and Howard is creepy but a little obvious.
Originality: 3/6 West takes an original approach to the material with some unexpected twists, but there’s no question he is self-consciously playing with shopworn tropes.
Production: 5/6 This film has been very well filmed on a comparatively modest budget. It also boasts a killer soundtrack.
Acting: 6/6 X features a remarkable cast, and they are clearly invested in their characters, no matter how bizarre the circumstances.
Emotional Response: 5/6 The film works on a number of levels: splatter, fun dark comedy, and commentary on age and youth.
Overall: 5/6 This is a frequently brilliant slasher film that works on its own, but works better if you really like the horror genre and have a special place in your heart for the trashier aspects of pop culture, especially 70s pop culture. West actually subverts the old conventions where certain other more famous directors merely imitate. Whatever happened to Texas Chainsaw Psycho Alligator Boogie Nights at the Old Dark Grindhouse on Halloween, anyway?
In total, receives 34/42
This not-for-all-tastes film, which is not for all tastes, is not, in fact, for all tastes. I suspect the same is true of the already-released prequel and the forthcoming sequel.