MPAA Rating: R
Director: Ti West
Starring: Mia Goth, Jenny Ortega, Brittany Snow, Kid Cudi, Martin Henderson
Runtime: 1 hr 45 mins
What It Is: In 1979, a film crew sets out to guerilla film a farm-themed porno at a creepy old barn and stay the night. Starring Maxine (Goth), an up-and-coming drug-addicted pornstar thinking she’s destined for fame finds herself curious about the seemingly quaint farm and its senile inhabitants Pearl (Goth) and Howard (Ure). When the mysterious old farmers no longer see the film crew as welcome, they turn to violence, turning further and further away from reality while having the upper hand.
What We Think: Anyone familiar with Ti West is likely already very confident in his consistent ability as a director to bring back the best some more obscure or iconic horror film movements have to offer with aesthetic indulgence and subtle comedy. (As a side note, throughout this review I’m trying really hard to pull back on saying iconic every other sentence.) He’s brought us low-budget satanic cults, haunted hotels, and now satisfying backwoods-slashers that bring back the vibes of renowned horror Texas Chainsaw Massacre. While time and again many, MANY other directors and creators attempt at recreating certain film aesthetics, West always manages to reign it in with enough style, humor, and originality to stay true to what we always enjoyed from the horror that made history. X is no different, only straying from West’s previous works by simply being far and away his best movie yet. Right off the bat, we’re allowed a glorious scene from Goth as the irresistibly self-obsessed, endlessly confident cokehead Maxine as she unabashedly exclaims her deliciously quotable mantra “yer a f*cking sex symbol” in the mirror before doing one of the fattest lines I’ve ever seen a character do onscreen. Following that a well-paced, predictable-enough tale about murder, sex, and more murder–just exactly what the masses crave, elevated by great cinematography, a memorable score end capped by the beautiful ballad “Oui Oui Marie” by Chelsea Wolfe, and playful and shocking performances by the entire cast. Everything feels purposeful and memorable when it comes to this film, from the house setting and production design (a very overt and loving homage to Texas Chainsaw), to the creative kills, to the kooky yet charming character work, to the costume design, and so on so forth. X is a complete success as one of the best slashers in recent history.
Our Grade: B+, A perfect, sexy slasher for those who miss the old days of horror but crave the capabilities of a cushier production, A24 hits the mark again by allowing Ti West the space to create a fun and often jolting viewing experience. While X isn’t the scariest nor most breakneck horror of the season, it will certainly get fans either laughing or dropping their jaws at this expressive slasher that embraces its roots while offering a new world of chaos, sexuality, discomfort, and violence. It’s just the blockbuster that we used to crave and missed so much during these strange and isolating times, and it’s amazing to see the return of ballsy, wacky, and fun movies. Not to mention the Pearl teaser at the end was, to me, one of the most shocking things that A24 has ever revealed in one of their films–am I wrong, or is this A24’s first trilogy? Nonetheless, we’re aexcited to see what else West has up his sleeve with the ridiculously talented Mia Goth as the heroine lead and solidifies the knowing that A24’s golden era of horror rampages on.