Behind the somewhat cryptic title X hides an atmospheric horror movie with excellent performances. I really think they could’ve come up with a better title than X. I mean, anything would be better than this. Mostly because it won’t have the same pretentious and dare I say cheap vibe. However, you should know that this movie is neither. I hate using the term elevated horror and I don’t think it’s really applicable in this case but it seems that most people think it actually is.
We will be following a group of young people trying to shoot a porn movie on a remote farm. I don’t think I need to tell you anything else about the story for you to get what’s going to happen. With this being said, I also have to warn you that the action starts quite late. I kind of wish we stayed with the porn shoot without any horror elements. Character development, dialogues, and atmosphere were that good. And the direction was simply stellar, not that I expected anything less from Ti West.
X feels like an homage to seventies both porn and horror movies like Texas Chain Saw Massacre. I say feels because we explore a range of interesting issues here. From religion over morality to finally, mortality. Now, this last aspect really stayed with me after the movie. I kept thinking about just how little time we have and what this means to the way we’re living. I wanted to run out and feel alive.
It is the year of our Lord Satan 1979 and pornography is slowly becoming accepted as something completely normal. There are more and more theaters showing these movies and one resourceful young man decides to take advantage of this. Wayne, his girlfriend and a couple of others decide to make their own porno movie under the direction of a young film school graduate and his girlfriend. All of them hop into a van and head for the remote farm in Texas to begin the shoot. The shoot that’s not going to end well.
X is the latest Ti West project who produced, wrote and directed this movie. You might remember him from the highly atmospheric and creepy retro horror The House of The Devil. He used the same formula here, so we can consider X as the latest addition to the genre of slasher-inspired movies. I’m talking about movies like Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight, The Final Girls, and Freaky. However, there’s a difference between all of those movies and this one.
West clearly divided X into two sections. The first section is pretty vibrant and fun but still with a couple of ominous signs. It also features a lot of sexually-charged scenes that were tastefully done. And the second one that’s just pure atmospheric horror. With effective and gory murders all culminating in one hell of a finale. Now, I must say that the barn scene almost killed this movie for me. It felt so unrealistic that I lost the connection with the movie almost altogether. Luckily, everything got back on track pretty soon.
All of the cast did a terrific job and I don’t want to single anyone out. Finally, I just have to mention that I think that the decision not to cast actual old people for the old couple was a huge mistake. The makeup they used was quite bad and it broke the immersion several times. I hope they avoided this in the sequel that’s already been shot. Titled Pearl, it’s supposed to come out in just a couple of months. Update, those months have passed, so check out Rabbit Reviews take on the movie Pearl.
Director: Ti West
Writer: Ti West
Cast: Mia Goth, Jenna Ortega, Brittany Snow, Kid Cudi, Martin Henderson, Owen Campbell
Fun Facts: Although the movie is set in Texas, it was actually shot on location in New Zealand.