The movie opens with Maxine, played by the current “it” horror girl Mia Goth, taking a bump of coke before being corralled by her boyfriend Wayne. They are off on a road trip with friends to make a dirty movie. Set in seventy nine there is some talk of making the next Deep Throat as well as some cool tunes playing in the background. Here we meet the other performers Jackson and Bobby-Lynne as well as the director R.J. and his girlfriend/sound person Lorraine. Piling into the van they head out into the Texas countryside, yeah it is set in Texas, for their destination. Wayne has rented a boarding house from an unsuspecting farmer to shoot his movie.
Once they arrive scenes are shot, characters are developed, and lots of people get naked. We also find out that the elderly couple aren’t at all what we expect them to be. But then maybe being that this is a horror flick, and they are creepy they are exactly what I as a horror nerd expected. Regardless after about an hour into the proceedings the bodies begin to drop. Some secrets are exposed, and we sort of get an ending with a bit of a twist. Though I’m glad that West did that more as a tease or “got ya” then really hanging any important plot points on it.
dig this movie, and I can totally see why. The kills are creative and executed
well. We get a cool neck stabbing/decapitation, a pitchfork thru the eyes, a
couple bits of shot gunning, and a gator attack. Though my favorite has to be a
in your face head squishing that was both gooey and bloody in the best ways.
What can I say I’m a horror nerd who loves his gore. In this way X more
than met my expectations. There is also some fun gnarly bits with a nail thru
the foot and some smashed fingers with protruding bone. Though for me the best
is dairy cow roadkill. Growing up in the country that one hit close to home.
Gnarly finger violence!
Being set in Texas during the seventies this movie also gives off some serious Texas Chainsaw Massacre vibes. In the hands of a lesser filmmaker this could have come off as a rip off or pale imitation, but West is better than that. His talent allows for this movie to push those familiar buttons of isolated farmhouse, clothes, music, and youth versus age all while telling his own unique story. This feels like something that might have happened down the road from the Sawyer’s house. It was more like West invokes a bit of the lore and locations but keeps it fresh. I dig that he did his own thing but still was able to give the horror audience a bit of a wink and nod. I also loved the fact that we get some gator action which I’m thinking might be another reference to a Tobe Hooper flick, Eaten Alive.
I’m a fan of Ti West but, and yes there is a but, X suffers from a very
familiar issue. I’ve shown a lot of my friends his earlier movies, The House
of the Devil and The Innkeepers. While their reaction has been
mostly positive, they all point out pacing problems. I’m beginning to think it
might just be his aesthetic as a director, but West does fall in love with
spending long stretches with characters talking. This allows him to put out the
bigger messages his movies are trying to get across before the mayhem starts,
but these are horror flicks and the mayhem is what we signed up for. With X that
means we hear the characters talking about being young and doing what they want
to do before they get too old to do it. This is further hammered away by the
old couple’s motivation for the killings, which is that the old lady is angry
that she isn’t attractive or special anymore.
Did we really need a musical number?
I guess that was a spoiler… but hasn’t everyone already seen this? It felt like I was the last one to get to it. Regardless that means while the last forty minutes of the movie is bonkers and fun with all sorts of creative kills, we get an hour of folks shooting a fake porno, talking about the porno, singing a song (I kid you not!), and driving in a sweet seventies van. There is even a bit of relationship drama when Lorraine decides to perform in a scene to the dismay of her boyfriend R.J. I understand the narrative importance of establishing the characters and the greater themes of the plot, but did it really need an hour of runtime? Also, couldn’t you have mixed in some kills earlier on so that the movie was more even? Just a thought.
In the end I see the value of X and why fans are in love with it. While I’m not in the “best horror flick ever” crowd, and they do exist out there, I would recommend checking this one out. Oh and can we please stop with the Mia Goth should have won an Oscar for this movie talk? That just makes us all look silly as genre fans. I’ve picked up a copy of Pearl, which is the prequel also starring Goth, and will be reviewing that soon.
© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer