Hitting UK and US cinemas today is the slasher movie, X. The film – written and directed by Ti West – stars Mia Goth, Jenna Ortega, and Brittany Snow, and tells the story of a film crew who find themselves in a deadly situation, while attempting to shoot an adult picture.
In the movie, it is 1979 and a film producer who specialises in no-budget skin flicks, sets off with his cast and crew to a secluded farm in Texas. After making contact with the owner of the farm, he plans to hire out a cabin on the property, to provide the backdrop for his film.
But when the group arrive at the farm, the owner is less than friendly. He makes it clear he is not a fan of anyone being on his property, but allows the group to stay under one proviso: Everyone must keep themselves to themselves and not go anywhere near his wife.
The producer agrees and soon the ragtag cast and crew get down to business making the movie. However, their shooting schedule soon goes out of the window once they cross paths with the farmer’s wife.
When I first became aware of X I got very excited. Director Ti West previously helmed one of my favourite horror movies from 2009, the ‘70s/’80s ‘satanic panic’ throwback picture, House of the Devil, and I couldn’t wait to see what he did with his latest movie.
The great news is, West has worked similar magic here, creating a movie which harks back to the past, and more specifically to the classic era of slasher films. X is a love letter to the blood-splattered flicks of the past, paying homage to the Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) and Friday the 13th (1980) amongst others.
In fact, if you found yourself a little disappointed by Netflix’s recent Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequel, then fling your eyeballs at X. This film might scratch that itch you have for ‘70s-style horror shenanigans, while adding a little more depth.
But be warned, while X is gruesomely good fun, it is a slow burning picture. This isn’t Scream (2022), so don’t expect to be bombarded with ‘kills’ straight away, as the film does take a while to get to them.
Those who are keen to see X may also want to buckle up for some scenes of a sexual nature. And depending on your preferences (hey there’s no judging here), one of these scenes may catch you a little off guard.
However, despite the slower pace of the film, as well as one moment of unexpected rumpy pumpy, X is a strong horror movie. I liked it a lot, and found myself being drawn into its grim and grubby aesthetic.
With regards to the ‘kills’, none are original, but they are rather fun. There’s one in particular which is set up quite early into the movie, and can be spotted a mile off, yet it still packs quite some bite.
This film also isn’t afraid to play up the blood and gore, and if this is something you like from a horror movie, you’re sure to find a hefty dose in X. Again, this film features call backs to slasher movies of yesteryear, and if that’s what you’re after, you do get everything that entails.
You also get some fantastic shots, which help to establish the setting, the tone, and the general vibe of the movie. There’s a certain familiarity to everything in the cinematography, which is designed to put the audience at ease, but also on the edge.
But it’s not just the look of the movie or the death scenes that work, X also has some interesting discussions about conservatism, about stardom, and about attitudes toward sex. Move past the hacking and the shagging which forms the vast majority of the film, and there is a conversation in here that many slasher movies don’t concern themselves with.
Ultimately, X isn’t just looking to provide mindless murder, or nods to Leatherface. Look beyond the surface, and the film wants to spread a little light on some other ideas too.
I thoroughly enjoyed X and I believe it to be a horror movie with something to say. It is a film made by someone well versed in the genre, and who clearly loves delving into the past to create something new, and that shows in every inch of this film.
But remember, this is a slow burning affair, so those looking for wall-to-wall death scenes won’t find them straight away. You’ll simply have to settle for some truly creepy old folk, as well as a fair bit of bonking until you get to the mayhem.