X directed by Ti West, is a new love letter to the slasher film genre. This movie within a movie that aims to tackle the strict relationship between sex, violence, desire, and the rage that manifests when one’s life lacks all of those things. West employs all the tropes involved with pornography and horror and tries to inject personal hints of creativity and originality into the narrative. Will it age well if I watch it again in five years? Probably not. But it provides enough fun and excitement in the current moment to keep audiences engaged.
Wayne (Martin Henderson) is out to make an amateur porn video called The Farmers Daughter. He’s looking to take advantage of the market by shooting his own self-financed movie. His film crew consists of a couple RJ (Owen Campbell) and Lorraine (Jenna Ortega), with actors Bobby-Lynne (Brittany Snow), Jackson (Scott Mescudi), and Maxine (Mia Goth). The troupe is traveling to an isolated location to shoot. The property owners are an elderly couple, Howard and Pearl, who don’t get many visitors.
Maxine is the first to tour the grounds and notices things are off. She doesn’t relay that to the group, but they probably wouldn’t have listened anyway. Meanwhile, Howard and Pearl are in a loveless marriage and want intimacy, but he can’t because of her Husband’s heart problems. When Pearl witnesses the group shooting in all their naked glory, this ignites a sexual rage in her that she chooses to take out on the young group. Let the game begin!
The idea that lack of sexual connection could cause one to become a murderer is interesting but isn’t expounded upon here. Pearl sees Maxine as a “special woman,” but the reason why it hasn’t been revealed until the last scene. There are too many loose ends to count, but the redeeming cast is what keeps X afloat. Each actor brings their own quirks to the table. They are good-looking, dynamic, and having a good time.
I give West credit for having a vision and sticking to his own influences and vision. He knows what he wants to do and how to execute it unapologetically. X is surface-level entertainment-focused more on having fun than telling a good story, but still, a satisfying piece of indie horror filmmaking that’s worth taking a chance on. Don’t expect anything like his previous film, The Innkeepers, but don’t think too hard while watching X. Just enjoy the ride.