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X (2022) Review

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X

Time: 105 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Graphic violence, horror, drug use & sex scenes
Cast:
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

The Ring (2002) Review

Time: 115 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Horror scenes
Cast
Naomi Watts as Rachel Keller
Martin Henderson as Noah Clay
David Dorfman as Aidan Keller
Brian Cox as Richard Morgan
Daveigh Chase as Samara Morgan
Director: Gore Verbinski

It sounds like just another urban legend — a videotape filled with nightmarish images leads to a phone call foretelling the viewer’s death in exactly seven days. Newspaper reporter Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts) is skeptical of the story until four teenagers all die mysteriously exactly one week after watching just such a tape. Allowing her investigative curiosity to get the better of her, Rachel tracks down the video and watches it. Now she has just seven days to unravel the mystery.

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I have been meaning to watch The Ring for a while, I’ve heard so much about it. When it comes to modern day horror, The Ring is one of the most noteworthy films, and so I was excited to finally see it. While not one of the most scary horror movies ever made, it was a very well done horror mystery film. Gore Verbinski did such a great job at making this movie more than just a typical scary flick, and made it much better than I thought it would be.

The Ring is a remake of the Japanese film Ringu from 1998, I can’t comment on how it works as a remake as I’ve never seen the original. Now I didn’t find The Ring to be a very scary movie, but to be fair that’s the case with most horror movies. Also, I didn’t get the feeling that this was meant to be a full on scare-fest. This was a mystery film, with Naomi Watts investigating to find out what is happening. It never feels like the movie is just trying to scare people, it feels like its trying to tell a compelling story. The story is very interesting, the mythology of the tape was intriguing. Also the way that the movie gave the information felt just right, it didn’t just information dump constantly like some lesser mystery stories often do. The Ring it does have some horror elements which were implemented very well. It has this dark uncomfortable feeling throughout the whole movie, nothing feels out of place tonally. It doesn’t go for a cheap scare, the pacing is constant and works well. If there was an issue with the story, I’d say is that the ending does feel quite abrupt. However that’s it, everything else is great.

One issue that this movie has is that there isn’t much in the way of characterisation, but the acting generally makes up for it. Naomi Watts is really good as the lead character investigating what happened with this mysterious tape. Other actors like Martin Henderson and Brian Cox were pretty good as well. Naomi’s kid played by David Dorfman was fine but not exactly great, he worked well enough for the film.

Gore Verbinksi directs this movie very well. Some of the more ‘scary’ moments are well known to audiences familiar with the horror genre, so you might find them more scary if you haven’t seen them before. For the most part though, the film doesn’t rely on jump scares or really scares in general. It has a pretty cold, unnerving feeling throughout. While very slick and polished to perfection, the direction doesn’t feel hollywised and glossy, it feels pretty gloomy. The blue colour pallet, the use of water and wide camera pans and more were so great. Verbinski’s direction played a huge part in the movie working well. Hans Zimmer’s score also added so much to the movie, it is so beautifully done and can inject a little dose of uneasiness into some of the scenes.

The Ring is a solid horror mystery film, greatly directed by Gore Verbinski. Its just so well put together, it surprised me how much effort was put into making this a genuinely intriguing mystery, not just a horror movie. If you like horror movies you should definitely give it a watch. It has some issues like the characterisation was pretty weak and I didn’t personally find it scary (though that may differ depending on the viewer) but everything else is done well.