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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 Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018) Review

Time: 90 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Sex scenes, offensive language & drug use
Cast:
Chloë Grace Moretz as Cameron Post
Jennifer Ehle as Dr. Lydia March
John Gallagher, Jr. as Reverend Rick
Sasha Lane as Jane Fonda
Forrest Goodluck as Adam Red Eagle
Emily Skeggs as Erin
Melanie Ehrlich as Helen Showalter
Owen Campbell as Mark
Quinn Shephard as Coley Taylor
Marin Ireland as Bethany
Kerry Butler as Ruth Post
Director: Desiree Akhavan

In 1993 after teenage Cameron (Chloe Grace Moretz) is caught in the backseat of a car with the prom queen, she is sent away to a treatment centre in a remote area called God’s Promise. While she is being subjected to questionable gay conversion therapies, she bonds with some fellow residents as they pretend to go along with the process while waiting to be released.

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I had been hearing about The Miseducation of Cameron Post for a while, it has Chloe Grace Moretz and involved gay conversion therapy (oddly enough not the only 2018 movie about the subject matter) and the movie was apparently really good. I wasn’t really sure what to expect outside of that. The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a really good movie and is really worth seeing by everyone.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post is based off a book of the same name by Emily M. Danforth, a book that is apparently quite good. I was really invested in the movie from start to finish despite the off-putting subject matter. I know that some people will be turned off because what this movie is about. When you hear the concept on paper, it sounds painful to watch but while it can be tragic and frustrating at many points (intentionally so), I still maintain that it really is worth seeing. It’s not as much of a heavy watch as you’d think it would be, even though it definitely is heavy in parts, and the emotional bits to the story really do hit hard. Yet it’s never heavy handing or overbearing either, it’s not shamelessly using shock value to provoke a response out of you or anything (not that there are a bunch of shocking moments or anything but you get what I’m meaning), it feels honest. I don’t know too much about the subject matter (aside from just hearing about it) but I am very aware of it, and watching the movie, they seemed to have handled it appropriately. My biggest negative of the movie is its length at around an hour and a half long, that’s really short and it feels like there was a lot more story that needed to be told. The ending is also quite abrupt and open ended, however I feel like it was the intention to leave things open ended. It’s more the length that bothered me, like it felt like there was a lot more story that is missing from the final film. By the time it was wrapping up, it felt like we only covered two thirds of the story at most.

The cast all around is great. Chloe Grace Moretz is a very talented actress and here she gives one of her best performances in the lead role. The other kids at the conversion therapy centre including Sasha Lane, Forrest Goodluck and Emily Skeggs are also good in their roles. Even the people running the therapy place with John Gallagher Jr. and Jennifer Ehle were really good and felt like real people despite their positions and their roles in the story.

The film was directed well by Desiree Akhavan, she actually directed (and also co-lead starred in) Creep 2, a very different type of movie which I also liked quite a bit. There’s not a lot to say about the direction really, it’s competently filmed and is just right for the story. Not to say that the direction is basic or anything, it’s at a level where it serves the script and the writing appropriately and is at the fine level of not being subpar but not being overwhelming either. The story is rather intimate film, mostly taking place in the conversion centre, and the direction accompanied that well.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a really good movie, tragic, funny, emotional and most of all really important. The performances and direction really elevate the movie even further. It really could’ve benefited a lot more from a longer runtime but it is still well worth a watch and is very deserving of all the praise.