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X (2022)

Movie Review

Release Date: 03/18/22
Genre: Horror

Studio: A24


"In 1979, a group of young filmmakers set out to make an adult film in rural Texas, but when their reclusive, elderly hosts catch them in the act, the cast find themselves fighting for their lives."


There is so much happening on-screen in Ti West’s X that you could easily miss on the first viewing. While the director's goal is to get you to notice a lot of these subtle and not so subtle moments throughout the film, you'd be forgiven if you missed some. Whereas some movies are an assault on the senses offering not much more than what you get the first time around, X is a film that warrants repeat viewings and is an observation of the art and craft of filmmaking. 


The craftsmanship and love of film is noticeable within this movie's first five minutes. While I'm sure one could declare this movie a simple love letter with its references, and clear appreciation to the 70's slasher films, particularly Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre; X is greater than the sum of its parts. Uninterested in simply being an imitation of that period in filmmaking, its first subversion to the audience is perhaps just that. The remarkably meticulous and expressive editing and camera movement which aside from looking impressive, builds tension and is another way X subverts its audience. A scene featuring Maxine (Mia Goth) swimming in a nearby body of water on the farm with an alligator unknowingly tracking not too far behind, a couple of different shots are utilized. The most effective being the bird's eye view; presenting a haunting visual of just how close she is to being attacked - an effective example of West’s use of tension. 


The movie takes time introducing its characters and their personalities, inspirations, aspirations, and reasons they want to make this adult movie throughout its first and second acts. When the characters start meeting their gruesome and inevitable end, it feels true to that character's individuality. This isn't a typical horror movie filled with characters that are unlikable making stupid decisions as you wait to see how and when they die. The cast all around is excellent in their roles as adult film actors and crew set out on making an adult film set on a farm, with Martin Henderson and Mia Goth being the standouts. With memorable three-dimensional characters, outstanding direction and editing, creative and gruesome kills, great acting, and a simple, but intriguing story, X delivers on every level that you would want from a quality slasher film.


Ti West's latest cinema offering is an accomplishment in today’s age of filmmaking, planting its roots in recreating a 70s exploitation film from that era's avant-garde filmmakers. However, the confidence X exudes proves that those roots are more than just a nostalgia-driven hit piece and instead of a filmmaker inspired by the decade, producing a brand new 70s film that feels like a lost gem of the genre.

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