Horror films come in many forms, but the main objective is to put the audience in unease. It’s seldom that this happens, but it makes the experience all the more powerful and memorable. Notable horror director Ti West returns with his latest creation titled X. This movie blends horror, comedy, and graphic sexuality into a perfect combination, making this one of the best horror films in recent years. It’s intense, gripping, violent, and will leave you grabbing your seat when things get serious.
The movie takes place in Texas, where a group of young actors is looking for a location to shoot their pornographic film. The script is ready, and while the crew is driving in their van, they are busy reading their lines and expressing how prepared they are to get the action going. It’s 1979, and the surrounding neighborhoods of Houston aren’t exactly thriving. The Executive Producer of this porno flick is Wayne (Martin Henderson), who’s excited about making money on this venture. If you pay close attention, he sounds and looks like a discount Matthew McConaughey. His goal is to find boarding at a local residence and shoot the film in secret instead of paying for an actual shooting location. Hey, he’s cost-effective here!
The film director is RJ (Owen Campbell), who wants to make this movie unique and more of an art film instead of those typical skin flicks. Along for the ride is his girlfriend Lorraine (Jenna Ortega), who works as the sound girl and is unimpressed with the content of what they are making and questions if this is to be an art film that RJ is claiming to make. He wants to make a good dirty movie! This movie is sure not to be one of those stag films they most likely watched growing up.
The actors who will be having sex in front of the crew are Bobby-Lynne (Brittany Snow), Jackson Hole (Scott Mescudi), and Wayne’s soon-to-be-fiancé Maxine (Mia Goth). They are professionals at this business, and Wayne is incredibly excited to make some money once this film hits the home video market. They find residence at an elderly couple’s home. They are Howard and Pearl, a couple whose years have passed by and are keen to stick to their conservative values. They are unaware of the group’s intention to shoot a porno flick on their property.
What makes X unique and original is the screenplay that allows the characters to become fully developed, and when the horror starts, we are treated with suspense instead of the over-abundance of jump scares. Even the sexuality in this movie is presented as pornography and isn’t thrown into the screenplay to feel cheap, which is a tired cliché of horror movies. The characters are intelligent and hardly make dumb decisions. The movie pays homage to many horror films, including Psycho, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Evil Dead, and The Last House on the Left, to name a few. I sat there in the theater, amazed at what I was looking at on the screen, finally a horror movie that respects its intended audience.
Writer and Director Ti West has crafted a brilliant horror movie that has more on its mind than giving us idiotic characters, cheap sex, and a mad slasher. His film is much more than that, and I became involved in the porn story myself. I wanted to know how it ended, but this was cut short when the horror elements came to lite (something I will not reveal here). The set designs are fantastic, the make-up and costumes are era-appropriate, and the soundtrack courtesy of Tyler Bates and Chelsea Wolf is haunting. This is a horror film done right because it’s suspenseful, intriguing, and delivers the goods for those looking for those gory kills.
Score 5 out of 5
X is a bold movie that features everything that horror fans love. Ti West’s vision is unparalleled to the usual array of slasher films. His screenplay is original, violent, and is surprisingly hilarious at times. All the actors are exceptional, and there isn’t a standout performance. Everyone is at the top of their game. The soundtrack is gripping, the suspense will leave your nerves itching, and for us horror fans, we can rejoice in witnessing a movie that respects its audience enough to give us something fresh, even if the film is predictable at times. Nevertheless, the presentation of X will have people talking about it but be warned this isn’t a movie for those casual observers of horror films. Much like the Conservative Christian network playing on the elderly couple’s television, this isn’t a movie for those squeamish about graphic sexuality being at the forefront of this movie.