Saturday, March 9, 2024


Movie Name:
Year of Release: 2022
Director: Ti West
Starring: Mia Goth, Martin Henderson, Jenna Ortega, Brittany Snow, Scott Mescudi, Owen Campbell, Stephen Ure, James Gaylyn, Geoff Dolan, Simon Prast
Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review
Ti West's "X" has its premiere at South by Southwest Film Festival in March of 2022, where it was greeted with good reviews, on its way to commence a trilogy of which the last film will premiere in 2024. The narrative focuses on a group of people who in 1979 get together to shoot a porn film. They decide to do so in a remote farm which they rent for the weekend in rural Texas. The group is comprised of adult-star wannabe Maxine, her producer boyfriend Wayne, Bobby-Lynne who quickly embarks on a fling with Jackson (a Marine Corps veteran), the director by the name of RJ, and Lorraine, RJ's shy girlfriend who assists with equipment and lighting. They rent a place from an elderly couple by the name of Howard and Pearl, though Howard disapproves of the group. As the group starts shooting the scenes separately, Maxine wanders off and decides to go for a swim in the small lake located on the property. She's observed with fascination by Pearl, who is drawn to her youth and beauty. She invites Maxine into her house, and makes a sexual advance towards her. The situation is cut short when Howard returns, which enables Maxine to quickly escape. As scenes continue to be shot, some tension also emerge within the group, which prompts RJ to leave while everyone is sleeping. However as he's trying to leave the property, Pearl is suddenly standing on the driveway, preventing him from leaving. When he tries to remove her, she attempts to seduce him, and upon his rejection she ferociously attacks him, killing him promptly. As others notice RJ missing, and they go looking for him, things start getting out of hand.
Much like "Pearl", Ti West and his creative team manage to bring this particular time period to life, and do so with the added layer and references of the 70s slasher film, but with a level of polish that makes this film that much more interesting to watch. The film benefits from the fact that is both unpretentious but also intelligent in its references, since it captures the atmosphere and type of character development associated with B-movies from the 70s and 80s (even some of the charismatic horror films from that time). Ti West also goes all in when it comes to the gore factor, which is where the film also becomes somewhat a bit more trivial, even if the film falls under the horror genre (at times, less can be more). The whole crescendo the writer/director manages to create with Pearl and Howard's relationship, and how that creeps (and literally bleeds) into a spiral of violence towards the sexually liberated group is quite effective, though the film does have a paltry character development overall. None of the characters get much of a chance to be expanded upon, though Pearl's narrative and arc does continue with the prequel Ti West shot immediately after this film. As it stands, this feature is an intelligent take on the slasher genre, peppering aspects of Paul Thomas Anderson's "Boogie Nights" with Tobe Hooper's "Texas Chainsaw Massacre", with a bit of feminist vibe that makes that much more interesting and pertinent. The cast is uniformly solid, with Mia Goth taking center stage in the dual role of Maxine and Pearl, with good supporting turns from Martin Henderson, Jenna Ortega and Scott Mescudi. The production team is equally solid, with highlights going for Eliot Rockett's cinematography and Tom Hammock's production design. It may not be for everyone's palate, but it's worth watching.