Time: 105 Minutes
Age Rating: Graphic violence, horror, drug use & sex scenes
Mia Goth as Maxine Minx/Pearl
Jenna Ortega as Lorraine
Brittany Snow as Bobby-Lynne
Kid Cudi as Jackson Hole
Martin Henderson as Wayne Gilroy
Owen Campbell as RJ Nichols
Director: Ti West
A group of actors sets out to make an adult film in rural Texas under the noses of their reclusive hosts, but when the elderly couple catches their young guests in the act, the cast finds themselves in a desperate fight for their lives.
I had been hearing of X leading up to its release. I wasn’t familiar with director Ti West’s past work, I only knew that it was an A24 horror movie starring Mia Goth. I didn’t watch the trailer, but it looks reminiscent of the low budget horror slashers from 5 decades ago, so it intrigued me. Overall, I was quite satisfied with the movie and it delivers on what it set out to do.
X is definitely a slow burn with a lot of build up over the course of the film, in fact it is quite a while before the first kill happens. However, I thought that it worked for the movie, and it never really dragged across its hour and 45 minute runtime. It definitely has a lot of love for the slasher movies of the 70s like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and pays tribute to them. The tone was appropriate for this story, you take it seriously enough. but at the same time it has its fair amount of humour and self-awareness that makes it fun to watch. There’s a lot happening thematically, transgressive art vs puritanical values, repression, sex and beauty. It’s also a surprisingly sex positive movie, especially considering that this is a slasher film with its setup being the main group of characters making a pornographic movie. In terms of issues, I wished that more things happened at the ending, it felt a bit too abrupt in the last minutes of the film. Also, for all the ideas and themes that it touches upon, X doesn’t seem to do much with them by the end. In that sense, I wish it either committed more and delved deeper into those topics, or focus more on the grindhouse homage.
The acting from everyone is great. Mia Goth stands out among the cast in two stellar performances, one of them playing a completely unrecognisable character. Other actors including Jenna Ortega, Kid Cudi, and Brittany Snow also deliver, the main cast works together incredibly well with natural chemistry.
This is the first movie I’ve seen from director Ti West, and now I really want to check out his other work. As I said before, X clearly has a lot of love for the grindhouse horror subgenre, and it embraces its silly and bloody nature. It nails the 70s aesthetic and style, and absolutely nails the eerie atmosphere. At the same time, it’s not stuck being only a grindhouse homage and manages to be its own thing. The cinematography is great and takes advantage of its locations and sets, the use of zooms were particularly effective in building up the tension. It is less aiming for jump scares and is more intense and suspenseful with the feeling of lingering and growing dread. There are some great practical effects with top notch sloppy gore with the creative kills (again very grindhouse-esque). The makeup is also excellent, especially with one particular character. The editing also does a lot for the movie, especially with the split screens and harsh cuts. The score from Tyler Bates and Chelsea Wolfe also added a lot to the feeling of the movie.
X is a solid, suspenseful, gory and darkly funny horror movie and homage to the slashers of the 70s. It’s stylishly directed by Ti West and has great performances from the cast. If you like slasher movies, particularly those leaning towards the grindhouse side, I definitely think that you’ll really like it. Apparently, West has already films a prequel to X and is currently working on a sequel, and after seeing the first movie I’m already interested in them.