The Reel Review
The year is 1979, and a group of young filmmakers have rented a house in rural Texas to shoot a porn flick. They soon find themselves fighting for their lives after their super creepy, murderous elderly hosts discover what they are doing, in this A24 period horror/thriller from writer/director Ti West (Them, V/H/S).
X is a throwback to the vintage, gore-splattered, shoestring budget horror films of the 1970s and 80s. It’s a sillier, more self-aware mashup of such classics as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Evil Dead and Friday the 13th. Awash with some hilariously gratuitous nudity, impressive 70s era set design and cheesy camera affects, X is both a parody of and an homage to the genre. The kill scenes are shocking and particularly gnarly. Keep an eye on that gator.
With a cast that includes Mia Goth (Emma., Suspiria), Brittany Snow (Pitch Perfect), rapper Kid Cudi and newly anointed Scream queen Jenna Ortega, West makes it clear that he knows how to create suspense and amp up the more cringeworthy moments. Snow in particular is entertaining as exotic dancer/porn actress Bobby-Lynne, with Goth doing double duty as ingenue Maxine and the frightening old lady, Pearl. Although none of the characters in X are that likable, and the third act showcases some unfortunate ageism at the sexuality of the elderly, the film culminates in a pulse pounding finalé that is both terrifying and funny, as we discover just who will be the Final Girl.
• X was filmed on location in New Zealand, home country of castmember Martin Henderson (The Strangers: Prey at Night, The Ring).
• In addition to writing and directing, Ti West has also acted. Among his acting film credits – the 2011 horror You’re Next.
• Brittany Snow and Kid Cudi will be reuniting in Snow’s directorial debut, September 17th, about a woman struggling with food and body issues who navigates unconditional love and a new addiction after being released from rehab.