Ti West’s recent film, X, takes horror back to its roots—rid of psychological warfare and instead renewing classic slasher tropes alongside erotica.
The year is 1979, the place is an eerie rented farmhouse, and the task is shooting a porno called “The Farmer’s Daughter.” The cast and crew of the aptly titled smut follows the typical heterosexual male dream: a double female to male ratio.
Martin Henderson as Wayne, Jenna Ortega as Lorraine, Brittany Snow as Bobby-Lynne, Mescudi (Kid Cudi) as Jackson, and Owen Campbell as RJ make up the group—though Mia Goth’s Maxine is the character audiences are drawn to.
Goth also plays Pearl, elderly co-owner of the farmhouse with her husband Howard. This doppelgänger element cements her to Maxine, eventually bringing the movie full circle.
West’s undertaking of skin and sin is a well-acquainted subject inhorror, but X offers a new dimension of feminist motivations and unexpected sequenced events.
While women in the genre often find their villainous drive from sexual suppression, X does the opposite as poor Pearl’s bloodlust comes from her inability to be sexually satisfied from her husband whose heart can’t take a screw.
The film’s beauty is to be expected from A24, the studio which has taken over horror in recent years. The cinematography takes the anticipation factor to the next level by layering paralleled scenes on top of each other, switching in-scene between the camera being used by director RJ in ’79 and the one to film X itself.
Making a movie while making a movie is a trope not foreign to horror nor film, but the accuracy and intent of West’s delivery sets X apart.
The late 70s marked a time of liberation and sway from religious views, hence the preacher’s monologue being played on every television in the film to juxtapose the group’s raunchy task. This setting helps makes the fuel behind Pearl’s fire seems that much more absurd, keeping viewers slack-jawed for the second half of the film.
In true farm fatale style, pitchforks, axes, and alligators serve as the weapons of choice. Gore is runs high after RJ cries in the shower and all hell breaks loose. The death sequences are also noteworthy as they stray from typical patterns; West’s film goes against all the cliches of horror in an hour and a half.
West took on X with the intention of making a highbrow slasher film—to say he succeeded would be an understatement.
X forces viewers to confront the fears unspoken in a youth driven society: growing old, undesirable, and unsatisfied. Pearl’s libido transgresses into anger and fascination with her younger doppelgänger she catches mid-action in the adult film.
Spinning clichés on their head while simultaneously embracing the classic identity of Texas Chainsaw Massacre built a horror picture that will leaves you thinking. The last 45 minutes might just be the most narcissistic nightmare ever.
All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.