Connect with us

Published

on

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.

X (2022) theatrical poster
X (2022) is a good sign for horror in 2022

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.

Advertisement

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.

Advertisement
A still of Mia Goth in X (2022)
Some of the shots are gorgeous, such as this scene depicting Maxine Minx (Mia Goth)

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.

Final Thoughts

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 out of 5 stars (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.

Advertisement

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.

David Davis is a writer, cartoonist, and educator in Southern California with an M.A. in literature and writing studies.

Movies n TV

Suburban Screams, A Killer Comes Home

Published

on

Episode two of John Carpenter’s Suburban Screams was more true crime than supernatural. It was the horrific, dark tale of a serial killer who escapes from jail and comes back to his hometown for revenge. And boy, does he find it.

The story

This story begins with a man coming out to his front porch to find a mysterious package wrapped in newspaper. He opens it to find a rotting, maggot-ridden head that he certainly didn’t order.

The head was placed there by a killer named Allan Legere. In 1986, Legere brutally murdered a couple in their homes during a robbery. For this, he was sentenced to life in prison.

However, he escaped from prison in May of 1989. Enraged at his old hometown, he returns there and starts a brutal killing rampage. He wants revenge on the people who wronged him. At least, the people he believes wronged him. Rather than focusing on the police who arrested him, or the judge and jury who convicted him, he decides to go after the journalists who reported on the case.

Advertisement

Of course, he also murders a whole bunch of old ladies for some reason. And a priest.

Annette Holland in Suburban Screams.

Legere is still alive, and still in prison. But as he’s escaped once, many people believe he might do so again. And if he does, he’ll almost surely try to pick up right where he left off.

This tale is told from the point of view of the journalists, Rick MacLean and David Cadogan. Both men have been deeply impacted by this incident. They are still shaken. And still very, very angry.

What worked

This episode was far better than the first, right from the maggot-headed start. The gore was intense. The story was horrifying. And it’s made even more horrifying, knowing that it is, for the most part, true.

The thing that made this episode stand out is that it feels so much like several beloved horror stories. I would suggest that this story inspired John Carpenter’s Halloween, except that that movie came out in 1978. The events in this episode took place from 1986 to 1989.

To realize that a person could cause so much pain, and take so many lives, is possibly the scariest thing most of us can imagine. And while this story is, sadly, not unique, it is certainly worse than most.

Advertisement

What didn’t work

After watching this episode, I can only really think of one complaint. There is a scene with the first victims, two elderly ladies. The first woman is home alone when someone begins hammering on her front door. We are meant to believe that it is the killer, but it ends up being her sister with a lovely salad. But if the two sisters lived together, why was she knocking to be let in? I can only believe that this is meant as misdirection to the point of being a jump scare. And this feels cheap. Especially when the rest of the episode was more on the level.

Is it True?

While I do think parts of this episode were, let’s say dramatized, I do think this happened. There are just too many facts that would be far too easy to look up. To my dismay, the part that is easiest to look up is the horrific deaths of many innocent people.

This was a much better episode than the one that preceded it. The story is compelling and frightening. It is well told, both from the survivors being interviewed and the actors recreating the moments of horrific history. I’m hoping that the rest of the season is more like this episode, and less like the first.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Movies n TV

Suburban Screams, Kelly

Published

on

Launched in October of 2023, Suburban Screams is the latest project by acclaimed horror master John Carpenter. It’s a true crime/unsolved mystery series covering events that have terrified people living in, you guessed it, the suburbs.

The story

Our first episode, titled Kelly, is the story of two roommates named Dan and Joey. The actual Dan and Joey tell the story from their own perspective, interspersed with dramatic reenactments. This did feel very much like an episode of Unsolved Mysteries.

One night when Dan and Joey have their girlfriends over, they decide to play with an Ouija board. Since they don’t have one, Dan makes one on a pizza box, complete with a planchette. This is, of course, when things go terribly wrong.

Still from Suburban Screams, Kelly.

Honestly, I have never heard anyone say, “I had a great time with that Ouija board, I’m really glad we did that.”

The couples make contact with a spirit named Kelly. This is very upsetting to Dan’s girlfriend May, as she had a cousin named Kelly who went missing and is presumed dead.

Advertisement

Dan then finds himself haunted by Kelly. He throws up water, finds his kitchen chairs stacked on the table, and is followed around by a haunting song. Dan feels like he won’t find peace until he helps Kelly find peace.

What worked

There was a lot to enjoy in this first episode. Specifically, I loved the horror visuals. Dan’s vision was very creepy, as an example. And I loved the shots of the body floating down the river. These images were eerie and upsetting.

The storytelling from Dan and Joey was also well done. While I have my doubts about the validity of this story, these two men believe wholeheartedly in what they’re saying. I certainly believe that they experienced something disturbing. Either that or they are some fantastic actors.

What didn’t work

That being said, some things rubbed me the wrong way in this episode.

I’d like to start with the herbs Joey burned during the Ouija session. It looked like sage, or maybe sweetgrass.

Advertisement

As some of you might know, I am a practicing witch. So I do feel the need to point out that if you want to open a door and invite spirits in, you probably don’t want to be burning sage or sweetgrass as those are going to negate any spiritual activity. This was for sure the action of someone who does not know what the hell they are doing. It just irritated me.

Also, maybe don’t throw open a door indiscriminately to the spirit world. Just saying.

I also didn’t love the acting by Ben Walton-Jones, who played Dan. While it wasn’t a terrible job, the character felt overacted. I don’t know how he had room for that pizza, since he was chewing the scenery most of the episode.

Honestly, this episode felt a little underproduced. When I saw John Carpenter’s name, I was expecting something with some real production value. Great acting, great effects, great music. None of those were in effect here. I’m not sure where their budget went, because it didn’t go to any of the things it should have.

Is it true?

So that brings us to the big question. Do I think this story is true?

Advertisement

Well, it is verifiable that Kelly Lynn Fitzpatrick was a young woman who unfortunately was found dead in 1999 in Quebec. The rest of the story, so far as I can find, is up to speculation.

Do I believe someone could contact the dead on an Ouija board they made out of a pizza box? Yes, I do. Because Dan made it with his own hands it might have worked better than a store-bought board. But do I think he was haunted to this extent by the spirit of Kelly?

Well, I would say that I believe this about as much as I believe the story of the Amityville house. Something certainly happened here, but I am sure that the details shared in this episode of Suburban Screams are highly overblown.

In the end, while I did have fun watching this episode, this fun was tainted. I would have enjoyed it more if it was presented as a fictional story loosely based on real-life events. Because that is almost certainly what it was.

Advertisement
3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

Continue Reading

Movies n TV

Fallout, The Beginning

Published

on

We’ve now reached the end of Fallout, season one. As I mentioned during the last review, I was heartily concerned that this show, like so many others, was going to drop the ball at the finale and ruin an entire season.

Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. This episode was everything it needed to be and more.

Let’s discuss.

The story

We begin our story with Maximus returning to the Brotherhood of Steel compound. He has a head, which he is claiming is the real head of Wilzig.

Advertisement

I don’t know why he thought that was going to work.

Of course, it doesn’t. The elder cleric is about to kill Maximus until Dane says that they hurt their foot.

Because of this, the Brotherhood is sent out to get the head. Or rather, what’s inside of it. They head to the city run by Moldaver. This happens to be the same place Lucy and The Ghoul are headed.

Still from Amazon Prime's Fallout.

There, Lucy does manage to find her father. What she ends up finding is so much more than she wanted to find.

What worked

The first thing I have to discuss is how seamlessly the storylines of the series combined.

Each of our four main characters has been on their own journey. Lucy is trying to save her father. Maximus wants to become a knight. The Ghoul wants to find his family. Norm wants to know what’s going on in Vault 31.

Advertisement

I sure wasn’t expecting all of these stories to come together in the way that they did. And to preserve the ending, I don’t dare say more. I will only say that yes, all four stories tie in perfectly with one another. By the end, two characters end up having the very same goal.

As I hinted before, I did not see the twist ending coming.

Ella Purnell in Fallout.

Yes, we might have guessed some things from the last episode. We of course guessed that Lucy’s dad was involved in some nefarious and probably sci-fi way. But the way this story twists at the end is nothing short of serpent-like. Which is why I cannot go into too much detail here. If you haven’t seen it yet, you need to experience it blind.

Finally, I can give the Fallout season finale the most important praise I can ever give a finale. It did its number one job, getting us excited for season two. We have answers, but now we have new and more exciting questions. And even better, we have a desire to see vengeance done.

What didn’t work

Now that the season is done, though, I can bring up something that bothered me through all eight episodes.

I don’t buy Lucy and Maximus’s relationship.

Advertisement

Maybe because it’s rushed. Maybe because the two actors don’t have a lot of chemistry. Maybe it’s because I’m not sure even now either character could tell you a single thing about the other. There is just no spark between the two. So their love story feels tacked on. I honestly feel like their love story could have been removed from the show entirely and it would have no negative impact.

I also didn’t buy Dane’s confession. This is a minor spoiler, but it comes up early in the episode. Dane confesses that they hurt their foot so that they wouldn’t have to go into the wastelands.

And at first, I kept expecting Maximus to thank them later. I honestly thought that they were just lying to save Maximus’s life. But no, as it turns out, they were not.

But it just doesn’t make sense. The motivations don’t jive. I honestly think it would have been better for the story if they had lied to save Maximus’s life.

At least then there’d be one other Brother of Steel who had some nobility.

Advertisement

In the end, this first season of Fallout was everything I could ask for. So far as I can tell, it was everything fans of the Fallout franchise could ask for. There wasn’t a bad episode in the bunch. Honestly, the only real complaint I had was that the season was so short.

I’ll be counting down the days to season two, and I hope you’ll be joining me then. Because war, war never changes.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

If you like my work, you can check out my latest science fiction/horror novel, Nova, launching on May 17th. Pre-orders are available now on Amazon.

Advertisement

Continue Reading

Trending