Paying homage to the slashers of previous decades is nothing new, but director Ti West’s new movie “X” definitely puts a different spin on this one, one that brings to definition a new term for film type: Porn-horror-emdy, as it’s truly a dark comedy, mixed with some of the weirdest horror yet seen, all the while shooting a porn movie.
It’s 1979, and strip-club owner Wayne (Martin Henderson), had gotten a group of friends, and employees, together to shoot a porn film that will make them all famous. There’s Wayne’s girlfriend Maxine (Mia Goth), Bobby-Lane (Brittany Snow), and Jackson (Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi), who will star in this one of a kind film as of course, this won’t be just any old porn film. This is going to be a ‘good dirty movie’ as wanna-be serious writer, director, editor, and cinematographer R.J. (Owen Campbell), tells anyone who will listen, and he’s here to prove that it’s possible to do just that. He’s ready to do anything and everything it takes to make it so, and he’s brought along his girlfriend Lorraine (Jenna Ortega), as boom-mic operator. Of course, given that this is the lowest of low budget productions, the cast and crew are all together at a remote farmhouse in backwoods Texas, owned by an really creepy elderly couple who are supposedly unaware of what goings on are to take place. And as predicted, the bodies start dropping.
As the majority of the film revolves around this singular location, an old farm seemingly in the middle of nowhere, Texas, you know it’s just ripe for plenty of slasher turns, what you don’t expect is the who and the why. It helps here that characters are written well, likable and fun. Despite the sleazy-ness of the material they’re attempting to make, they don’t feel shallow or sleazy themselves. They believe in their work and the reasons for making it, and in turn, so do we the audience. While it may have been nice to get a little more depth out of them, they clearly have history and there are things hinted at that never get much development, they’re at least a decent crowd of folks who are fun to be around.
But the direction they take with some of the “horror” late in the movie is off-putting. It’s understandable what they are going for here and it’s point, and trust, the point does come across almost in all the wrong ways. It still doesn’t change how you feel which is unsettled, and grossed out, but not in the right ways, not in the ‘scared’ way. Luckily you have a wonderful kicking-it-back to the 70’s soundtrack, that bounces the film up a beat, along with a great cast doing a really great job. Most especially to take note of here is Brittany Snow, whose turn as a wannabe porn star makes for a hilarious return to horror for the actress, along withJenna Ortega, dubbed the ‘church mouse’, giving us a transforming surprise. Meanwhile, Mescudi does an formidable job as the guy full of bravado, a veteran who fears nothing, even when he should. Still, this is Mia Goth’s movie as she pulls double duty as both the lead character and as house owner Pearl. Even when buried under tons of makeup, her performance comes strongly through.
“X” is by far not a perfect film, and like pretty much all slasher films, there are some characters who exist just to get killed off in predictable fashion, and none of death scenes are horribly scary, but the true fear lies within the point of the film which can also be gag-able as well. Summing it all up, “X” is a trip, but the cast is a blast – the film isn’t as much so. But it’s definitely different.
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Premiere Review Screening: Tuesday, March 15, 2022 ~Courtesy of A24
“X” from A24 is in theaters Friday March 18, 2022