Vampire Owl: I have always wanted to have the title, Vampire X.
Vampire Bat: You have been identified as Vampire O for a long time.
Vampire Owl: Well, why not X? Everyone has wanted to be Agent X.
Vampire Bat: Agent X has never been real – there was only a hoax related to it.
Vampire Owl: I have heard that most of the mass movies of humans have such agents.
Vampire Bat: They have such things because they run out of ideas.
Vampire Owl: I do feel that the X letter suits this movie better.
Vampire Bat: Well, its better suited for a slasher movie for sure.
Vampire Owl: You know how much we have missed the true slasher films.
Vampire Bat: Well, they should come back now for classic horror stories – the encounter should happen now or never.
[Gets some French fries and three cups of Munnar tea].
What is the movie about? :: Maxine Minx (Mia Goth) has always wanted to become a famous actress, and she does not mind how it comes, as the easy option seems to be to become a pornographic actress. As she wishes to be part of such a film during a time when theatrical pornography market is booming, she goes on a road trip with her friends and crew for an upcoming adult movie. The crew includes her own boyfriend and producer Wayne Gilroy (Martin Henderson), other actors Bobby-Lynne Parker (Brittany Snow) and Jackson Hole (Scott Mescudi), director RJ Nichols and his girlfriend Lorraine Day (Jenna Ortega). While Nichols want it to be a serious piece of cinema, Lorraine is not happy with the work. Bobby-Lynne and Jackson seems to be very much interested in each other as far as the work is concerned, but as they reach the farm where they are supposed to shoot, things do not seem to get any better. The whole place is supposed to have had soldiers staying there during the Civil War, but that might not be the only history that the house would have.
So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: In the early moments itself, it seems to be clear that there is something strange about the area as well as the old couple who owns the house, but the crew doesn’t seem to mind as they are able to shoot in peace around such a deserted area. The name of their movie is The Farmer’s Daughters, and the setting and the atmosphere seems to suit it very well. The old lady is very much attracted to Maxine, and wishes that she was young like her and friends who seems to enjoy their youth so much. At the same time, Lorraine, who is tired of being considered prude by others, wishes to participate in one of the intimate scenes, much to the dismay of Nichols who finds the change to his script and his lover’s change of heart to be depressing. He decides to leave the place, but finds out that it is not that easy to leave the farm, and others would also discover the same sooner or later. Now the question remains if any of them could manage to leave the place alive.
The defence of X :: The movie provides the feeling that it goes straight to the good old horror slasher roots, without hesitating like the newer additions to the genre which seems to have a few more doubts than required. This would be like sending an e-mail to those older generation of slashers and letting them know that we are still here, even though instant messaging is more of the trend. There are some memorable scenes including the alligator attack which just misses the protagonist, the meeting of two characters played by the leading actress, the elder woman invading the protagonist’s room and the final scenes of gore. The victims here are not that dumb as the characters who run around in horror films either, as the danger here would feel minimal for anyone. The movie is very much atmospheric, and the world here is suitable to be place any terrifying creature. The idea of being in a cabin in the middle of nowhere never really gets old, and never limited to Evil Dead and The Cabin in the Woods which serve as perfect examples.
Positives and negatives :: This movie is an example of something coming out of nowhere all of a sudden and keeping us interested. One might feel that there could have been more strength with its evil presence, but that side is kept rather realistic here. There are no supervillains who keep coming back for more after they seem to be dead, a case which has been repeated so many times, very recently with Halloween. The movie does have the stereotypes, but none of them used for the sake of being there, as there is some fine blending happening around here. This is also the kind of movie which makes you long for those old slashers, and a return to the past is provided with elements of nostalgia. The ideas of beauty and its fading with old age gets a special attention here, as we look at the process leading to disastrous events. The ending could have actually been more powerful, as the use of some elements resemble deus ex machina. What rises above all of these is the certainty that this is a worthy slasher horror that takes us to that childhood which had horror that lasted and eternity.
The performers of the soul :: Mia Goth was part of A Cure for Wellness with a mysterious performance, and it is nice to see her again in a genre which seems to suit her so well – the looks also come as a bonus along with her performance. It would seem that she blends in here so well that we never feels that she is not that any of those characters. Even when nothing happens, there is something about her – the swimming scene of her might be one of the spookiest among them, as danger is on the trail, and so seems many other mysterious elements. Such natural performances have been rare in slasher films. The makeup for the older version is also well done. Jenna Ortega is there as what seems to be another version of the protagonist, but there is the feeling that we do not really see enough of her here. There could have been something eerie about her in the end, but there is the feeling that the character is abandoned. Brittany Snow’s role is rather predictable, but still leaves a mark. The rest only needs to play along according to the needs here.
How it finishes :: We have not had many classic slasher movies around here which could bring us some nostalgia along with quality. This one does the job pretty well though, and in a world where slasher horror is losing power, a movie like this is very much required. There might be many reasons to deny the slasher its due, but we can always have more to accept it as a genre that demands our attention. When we consider the horror movies of the year, X is that film which has managed to grab less attention. But it is also that kind of a movie which deserved more. It would not be the perfect slasher film with that near unstoppable killer on the loose, but does manage to gain the success that it deserved with moments that will stay with us for some time. After all, being in a cabin in the woods or in the middle of nowhere makes all the impact in different forms. There is no better place to be, for any horror fan – we enjoy watching the terror unfold in such a setting, with atmosphere playing a major part in raising the level here.
Release date: 14th April 2022 (Amazon Prime Video); 18th March 2022 (Theatre)
Running time: 106 minutes
Directed by: Ti West
Starring: Mia Goth, Jenna Ortega, Brittany Snow, Martin Henderson, Owen Campbell, Stephen Ure, Scott Mescudi
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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.