A new Ti West horror film is a cause for celebration. If that weren’t enough, he sets his sights in the late 1970s with a slasher that evokes the sleaze of 1970s horror and pornography into the brilliant X.
I was already a fan of Ti West’s work, with The House of the Devil being a particular favorite horror film of mine. I have also greatly enjoyed The Innkeepers and The Sacrament, as well. So the revelation of a new Ti West horror film I had no idea was coming was an exciting prospect.
I am also thankful that it is so damn good.
All About X (2022)
X (2022) is a period slasher film directed, written, produced, and edited by Ti West. The film stars Mia Goth, Jenna Ortega (Scream), Martin Henderson, Brittany Snow, and Scott Mescudi. The crew also features editor David Kashevaroff, cinematography Eliot Rockett, and music by Tyler Bates and Chelsea Wolfe.
The movie follows an adult film production in 1979 Texas. The crew rents out a farmhouse from an elderly couple to film their movie for the developing porn-on-tape market without informing the homeowners of their intention. The crew soon finds themselves in the predatory gaze of the seniors, and things become bloody.
The film is rated R for violence, gore, nudity, language, and drug use.
What Worked with X
X works on several levels. For most audiences familiar with slasher films, Ti West’s latest film evokes classics of the genre, and for super-fans, spotting the references can be pretty fun. The whole movie is also rather intelligent, given the subject matter, exploring the intersection between pornography and horror, which have an intimate relationship as outsider arts. The film is also thrilling, combining genuine thrills of violence with perfectly-timed comedy. The dialogue is also quite sharp, with some excellent lines and conversations between characters.
The performances are top-notch, with every actor bringing something unique to the film. For example, Mia Goth’s Maxine Minx offers a great spin on the final girl trope. While Mia Goth (Suspiria, A Cure for Wellness) certainly steals the show for a couple of reasons I dare not spoil, she is matched by her co-stars. Brittany Snow (Prom Night, Pitch Perfect) plays the most endearing of the characters as Bobby-Lyne, whose sweetness is offset by her potent sexuality. Meanwhile, Scott Mescudi, known to music fans as Kid Cudi, plays the only male actor in the in-film porno, Jackson Hole, but overall carries a real depth to his performance.
On a technical level, the film is excellent. The editing is pretty innovative with interesting cross-cutting for transitions, and a musical sequence with simultaneous framing juxtaposes the two sets of characters in such a way to heighten the themes.
The cinematography is also very impressive, with the film drifting from gorgeous to grotesque at times, often within the same sequence of events. The film has the necessary level of grit and grime that makes it feel like it was restored from a 1970s print. It’s all very effective, down to the end titles evoking the grindhouse reels.
What Didn’t Work with X
As a whole, the film is a triumph of genre awareness and evoking the spirit of the 1970s aesthetic. The performances are also top-notch without a single misstep in the cast. However, two elements left me unsure, especially compared to the rest of the film.
For example, one character’s death ultimately took a long way round for a short and sudden conclusion at the end of a shotgun. While initially shocking, the death didn’t feel like it fit in with the rest of the film due to the relatively abrupt nature and minimal gore. For a movie that plays so brilliantly with bloody chaos, this felt like a misstep. I expected something more of the character, especially given the setup.
The other concern is with Pearl, the older woman. Her reasoning for her actions is pretty straightforward, but the intent was less so. Perhaps I missed something in the dialogue concerning why she wanted a pivotal character to be kept alive. Maybe this is something that I will catch on my rewatch or something that might be established in the confirmed prequel due soon.
However, these issues are minor, given the overall enjoyment I had with the film. X (2022) is one of my best theatrical horror experiences.
X is a damn fine 1970s-style slasher film with a deft blend of terror, comedy, and tragedy and enough references to keep the die-hard horror fans talking. For a general audience, the movie offers plenty of titillation and thrills to entertain while also not being overly beholden to the genre.(4.5 / 5)
X (2022) was distributed by A24 and was a production of Mad Solar Productions, Little Lamb, and Bron Studios. It is currently in theaters.
We would love to hear your thoughts on the movie in the comments if you’ve seen X. Enjoy the review? Check out our other horror reviews here on Haunted MTL.
More Ti West?
These sponsored links feature a curated list of Ti West horror films you can grab at Amazon.