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TravisR

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Here is a good discussion of the terminology which has been in play now for several years:

I don't need to click on the article to say that "elevated horror" is a snobby way of looking down on mainstream horror. It's basically the same as in the 90's when the studios or stars would say "This is more of a psychological thriller than a horror movie" because they felt that horror is a ghetto or they wanted to appeal to people who are too good for horror pictures. That being said, I don't feel that West is doing that with X.
 

JoeStemme

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West clearly was doing something outside the norm here with the symbolism of the porn film and the slasher film cliche of sex leading to death. If not a full deconstruction, certainly a commentary on the genre from a modern perspective.
It doesn't have a 96% on RT because of its gory kills.
Call it "elevated", "pretentious" or just "smart", but West was aiming for something higher than Friday The 13th Part XX
 

TravisR

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Call it "elevated", "pretentious" or just "smart", but West was aiming for something higher than Friday The 13th Part XX
That's true but I think the difference is that he wants to make a better movie than a standard slasher movie while also not looking down on the genre as he does that. For what it's worth, I think "elevated horror" is more in the eyes of the marketing department and fans than something filmmakers are trying to achieve.
 

Reggie W

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Here is a good discussion of the terminology which has been in play now for several years:


Wow, I thought you came up with the "elevated" deal and did not know it was a thing or even that it was being used to describe certain films. That falls under learn something new every day for me.

I'm not sure that critics discussion clarified things or made me more confused.

I can't speak for West, obviously, but my take is he just loves the genre and many older films from it. I don't get the sense he looks down on those pictures, I think he worships at the altar of those films.

I thought that his approach is that he does love the older pictures but he wants to put some sort of new spin on his take on them. In the same way Tarantino does. Quentin has this odd geeky approach where he seems to envision characters from old films he loves having these nutty extended conversations and so he writes the dialogue he "wishes" they had said.

All I thought West was doing with his horror stuff is trying to just add something to his pictures so they are not exact copies of older films.

I think this is a common thing now, that many times a film is not just about whatever the story is about but it is also a movie about loving movies.

House of the Devil has a plot and story to follow but it also, to me, just seems like this love letter to older horror films. I have not yet seen X but the trailer makes it look like he is once again expressing his geek love for older horror films. At least in the trailer I did not feel like he was trying to elevate anything. It does not look like film snob stuff, it looks like film geek stuff to me.

I just think when you are paying tribute to older films from a director/writer standpoint you don't want to do just a pure copy of another film, you want to try to put a new spin on it as well.

At the end of reading that article I was wondering who coined the term "elevated horror" and who is using it to describe their films? Are directors and writers saying that or is it critics using the term?
 

Reggie W

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So, if I am understanding "elevated horror" correctly, that would make John Carpenter a guy that made "elevated" horror films because his pictures would be horror on the surface but would have some sort of social commentary beneath that. Which I mean is typically just called subtext isn't it?

They Live is a horror film but has a subtext about consumerism. I mean hasn't this kind of thing always been part of the genre? Invasion of the Body Snatchers has subtextual elements that were part of writing and creating it.
 

Colin Jacobson

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That's true but I think the difference is that he wants to make a better movie than a standard slasher movie while also not looking down on the genre as he does that. For what it's worth, I think "elevated horror" is more in the eyes of the marketing department and fans than something filmmakers are trying to achieve.

I think there's a middle ground between "pretentious snoozefest" and "cheap, by the numbers horror movie".

As noted, I'm not unilaterally opposed to West's style, and I'm not one who needs graphic violence every 2 seconds. I like "slow burn" horror.

This one just feels like a failed experiment to me. It doesn't go anywhere interesting, and the conceit
whereby the same actor plays the 2 parts is a massive eye-roller for me. It was clear from Minute One that Mia Goth played both roles, and that was just a silly affectation.
 

JoeStemme

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I think there's a middle ground between "pretentious snoozefest" and "cheap, by the numbers horror movie".

As noted, I'm not unilaterally opposed to West's style, and I'm not one who needs graphic violence every 2 seconds. I like "slow burn" horror.

This one just feels like a failed experiment to me. It doesn't go anywhere interesting, and the conceit
whereby the same actor plays the 2 parts is a massive eye-roller for me. It was clear from Minute One that Mia Goth played both roles, and that was just a silly affectation.

I don't get hung up on the "Elevated" debate, either. But, I agree with you that this is an "experiment" no matter how you categorize it. Even though I think West's filmmaking chops are evident, I do believe he also, in a way, outsmarted himself. A lot of reviews from average filmmgoers have noted how slow it is. And, that's because West spends so much time "setting it up" that it doesn't have the kick in the teeth enjoyment factor of a HALLOWEEN or a TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE that get right to the point. I, too, have no problem with slow burn pictures, but, this is "slow" in the sense that it showing off how "intelligent" it is - only to end up with the same old, same old bloodbath at the end. And, the
Teaser at the end only compounds how pointless the whole thing was from the get go. It's just another slasher flick. Done with more style, but, all the fancy pants -- see how wicked smaht I am - stuff is negated by the finale
 

Colin Jacobson

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I don't get hung up on the "Elevated" debate, either. But, I agree with you that this is an "experiment" no matter how you categorize it. Even though I think West's filmmaking chops are evident, I do believe he also, in a way, outsmarted himself. A lot of reviews from average filmmgoers have noted how slow it is. And, that's because West spends so much time "setting it up" that it doesn't have the kick in the teeth enjoyment factor of a HALLOWEEN or a TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE that get right to the point. I, too, have no problem with slow burn pictures, but, this is "slow" in the sense that it showing off how "intelligent" it is - only to end up with the same old, same old bloodbath at the end. And, the
Teaser at the end only compounds how pointless the whole thing was from the get go. It's just another slasher flick. Done with more style, but, all the fancy pants -- see how wicked smaht I am - stuff is negated by the finale

Yeah, the whole "set up" just feels like blah blah blah.

We spend tons of time with the characters but never feel like we know much about them beyond basics - and cliche basics at that.

The antagonists stay in the shadows most of the time - literally, since West needs to hide the actress - and while it makes sense that they stay undefined for a while, they never really pay off, and the film spends too much time with them in that "build up" period.

A lot of the film simply seems indulgent and meandering. You know it builds to something, but it gives us such a dull, bland journey that we don't care by the time we get there.
 

Reggie W

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I enjoyed this but mostly it does seem to be a tribute to filmmaking that West is into.

The opening shot is basically ripped from the end of The Searchers where West frames it such that the camera is looking out of a doorway so that the darkness of the doorway is framing the outdoor area but then the camera slowly glides out of the interior into the light opening up to a full screen shot of the farm they are on. It is basically a tipoff that we are going to get one of these movies about movies pictures.

From there West appears to be taking the kitchen sink approach throwing nods to all sorts of pictures into this film. In this regard, as his tribute to other movies, it was quite fun for me. We get pretty much everything that is creepy in a horror film all stirred into this. Creepy dolls, creepy water, creepy old people, creepy rural environment, big creepy animals, creepy swimming sequence, creepy walks in the woods, it is all of this stirred into one pot. Friday the 13th, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Jaws, West loves it all. Plus, a 1970s style porn film thrown in. Don't expect a ton of the porn stuff, he pretty much gets that out of the way early and it is over.

I would not call the film pretentious, he sort of makes fun of that idea with the character that is shooting the porn film, I would basically call this a picture for fans of 1970s/1980s cinema and people that enjoy movies about movies.

As a horror film there really is nothing here you have not seen before but that kind of seems like the point.

I thought it was very entertaining but as a movie for film buffs much more than a horror picture.
 
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Reggie W

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A couple other things I would say about X, it does look great and is wonderfully shot. I guess in some ways this is kind of getting to be a tired thing to say about recent films as they all seem to look nice and are well photographed. We don't really have the low budget style pictures of the 1970s anymore where you can plainly see they were working on a tight budget and things don't always look great.

This is a picture afforded the budget and crew to make it look good but they try to get that retro vibe.

Really, this film makes a nice third feature to add to the Rodriguez and Tarantino Grindhouse pictures. This is a lot like those minus the fake bad edits and scratched film look they layered into those.

If you want to watch a fun attempt at doing a throwback picture and seeing Ti West geek out paying tribute to movie stuff he loves, watch this film. As a horror film, well, it suffers from the issue that it is not attempting anything new so on that front, it feels a bit tired. I mean I would rather go back and watch the films he is paying tribute to if I want horror or great films.

I think it is great as a tribute film and really kind of mediocre as a horror film.
 

TravisR

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...and really kind of mediocre as a horror film.
There's certainly been more violent movies made but for an R-rated movie that played in a multiplex, I was surprised by how violent X was and that amped up the horror for me. Not that violence always equals horror but the level of violence helped surprise and create an uneasy feeling in me as I watched it.

As for tributes or "in-jokes", I chuckled when they used Don't Fear The Reaper and I loved the music crescendoing and being brought forward in the mix as the poor kid was getting stabbed like 10 times.
 

Reggie W

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There's certainly been more violent movies made but for an R-rated movie that played in a multiplex, I was surprised by how violent X was and that amped up the horror for me. Not that violence always equals horror but the level of violence helped surprise and create an uneasy feeling in me as I watched it.

As for tributes or "in-jokes", I chuckled when they used Don't Fear The Reaper and I loved the music crescendoing and being brought forward in the mix as the poor kid was getting stabbed like 10 times.

I liked hearing Don't Fear the Reaper as well. I don't think it was a bad horror film the only reason I would rate it mediocre is because I felt everything he did in it, all the kills for example, were just ripped from other pictures. So, to me the only original aspect of it that I found exciting was that he was paying tribute to other pictures.

I cracked up at several of the things he did and enjoyed them but just evaluating it as horror it seemed like a bunch of replays of scenes from other pictures. I saw every kill coming from a mile away and he did them pretty much by the numbers. He drew me in as a film fan but as a horror fan, not really. I think I probably have seen too many movies.

I think it is a good film and I would watch it again but more for film geek stuff than horror stuff.
 

Reggie W

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The thing I wonder about with a picture like X is how does it play for people that have not seen all sorts of or any 1970s and 1980s horror films?

And what is it like to see these in reverse order, meaning they see West's picture and maybe like it and then decide to go back and watch a bunch of films from the 1970s and 1980s?

Do they dig West's tribute film more because they saw it first?

I saw Friedkin's Sorcerer before I saw Wages of Fear so I was not thinking of the first film at all when I saw Friedkin's remake and so I was just totally in love with the Friedkin picture. I know this changed how I saw Wages of Fear when I finally saw it.
 

Ronald Epstein

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So, I almost bought this on digital today for $19.95 based on the very positive critic reviews.

After reading this thread I am putting my credit card back in my pocket for the moment.
 

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