X - New Release Review
Director: Ti West
Starring: Jenna Ortega, Mia Goth, Brittany Snow, Kid Cudi, Martin Henderson, Owen Campbell
Written by: Ti West
Produced by: Harrison Kreiss, Kevin Turen, Jacob Jaffke
Cinematography by: Eliot Rockett
Original Score by: Tyler Bates, Chelsea Wolfe
A group of young filmmakers set out to make an adult film in the Texan countryside, but when their reclusive, elderly hosts catch them in the act, the cast find themselves fighting for their lives.
It’s the summer of 1979, 'Mork and Mindy' is entertaining the nation on TV, 'Boogie Wonderland' is blasting all over the radio and on a farm in rural Texas, some entrepreneurs gather to make the most artistic Adult Entertainment film you’ve ever seen, “The Farmer’s Daughters”. Unfortunately, this porno wouldn’t make it to cinemas as first the stars must deal with the farmer’s wife. That’s the simplest way to describe Ti West’s latest horror film ‘X’ without giving away any of the surprises.
Ti West has always been a master of horror, giving us great films in the past like ‘The House of the Devil’ and the criminally underrated ‘The Innkeepers’, but with ‘X’, his direction has reached a new level of brilliance. West uses everything in his cinematic arsenal here, giving his homages to ‘The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’ Wes Craven's ‘The Last House on the Left’ and ‘Boogie Nights’. There’re some moments in ‘X’ that feel like they've been pulled straight out of a Tarantino movie, which is interesting to me on multiple levels since there has been a boom in ‘exploitation’ type projects ever since 2007’s 'Grindhouse' by Tarantino and Rodriguez. There’s been pastiches of old grindhouse type movies in the past 15 years, such as 'Black Dynamite' or 'Machete' and there’s been several aesthetically Grindhouse movies such as 'Mandy' and 'It Follows'; ‘X’ belongs in the latter category.
Shot on beautiful 35mm film, West is able to capture the spirit of the late 70’s perfectly, using an absolute banger soundtrack and 16mm footage for the porn footage. All of the characters in the film are all very likeable, thanks in large part to the very talented cast. These are characters who could be presented as being sleazy or despicable, but each character has a special charm to them. Mia Goth may be the stand out of the group, playing our lead porn star Maxine. Goth also plays another character in the film, I’ll not give away who it is here, but while watching you’ll be pleasantly surprised. I’d also like to give a special shout out to Jenna Ortega, who has been doing excellent work in the horror genre lately (Scream, The Babysitter : Killer Queen) and her role in ‘X’ is no exception.
The film truly is a love letter to the horror community. Giving us something so well directed and photographed, yet still being as gross and sleazy as an 80’s slasher. Sure, the porn aspect is a part of the story, and the film does feature heavy nudity, but it never feels exploitive of the genre. The film making of the porno is treated with care and never feels like it’s in the movie just for some cheap T&A shots.
No spoilers, but this movie easily has some of the best killers I’ve seen in a horror movie in a long time. As a fan of the shotgun kill in ‘The House of the Devil’, I’m pleased to say that every kill here is as exciting and unexpected as the last. My only negative of the film is that I thought it was a touch too long, but that might be my own fault as I had seen the trailers and knew where the story was leading. Going in blind is the best way to see the film and trust me, if you’re even the slightest horror fan, you’ll still have a hell of a time with ‘X’.
- Adam Neeson