Ti West is a familiar name in horror with "The Sacrament" and "The House of the Devil," often writing and directing his projects, and here in "X" he delivers an unforgettable night of terror.
In Ti West's X, audiences follow a production crew and cast as they set out to make an adult film to achieve fame. The movie in a movie style is so wonderfully executed because of the film’s editing, the superb setup, and refreshing portrayals of, what would be stereotypical characters. What starts as an adventure toward the American Dream quickly turns into the worst nightmare, and it's stylized perfectly within the late 70s.
This hilariously graphic film is here to set the record straight on what great atmosphere, characterization, and intensity look like in a movie, all in less than 2 hours. While most expect a slasher to be a quick flick for entertainment on a late night, “X” will stick with you. You'll be a better horror fan witnessing West's take on the genre.
At the film's opening, the bloody aftermath of one grizzly night is taken into account by local authorities. We see bloody coverings of bodies, not knowing details of who or how. Before you know it, we travel twenty four hours back and start to meet our crew for the flick. Adult film actors Maxine (Mia Goth), Bobby-Lynne (Brittany Snow), and Jackson (Scott Mescudi / Kid Cudi) are joined by director RJ (Owen Campbell), producer Wayne (Martin Henderson), and boom operator Lorraine (Jenna Ortega). The crew is packed but each character knows their potential and finds their respective scene to steal. They travel to a rural area where they can dedicate an evening to filming, and take up residence in a boarding house on an elderly couple's land. Unknown to them, they're being watched and heavily judged for their genre of filmmaking and sexually confident nature, which leads to a gruesome expression of unwelcoming.
That being said, oh boy did West deliver what we all wanted in a slasher, kills with floods of blood to make the squeamish and bold consider looking away. It even tapped into a personal fear of mine, unexpectedly.
A surprise casting here in Kid Cudi for horror, but fans will be totally involved in his performance as Jackson. He's a confident and respectful performer who knows what he's packing, and how to match the level of energy his costar and sometimes lover Bobby Lynne (Snow) exhibits. Snow creates a delightfully independent woman who's in her prime of realizing herself in Bobby-Lynne. Alongside Maxine (Goth) the two offer a perspective on their adult film work, and what that means to them individually, that is probably my favorite scene in the movie. It offers a take on this corner of creative work that is so honest, credit to West's writing. Ortega greatly matches the caliber set before her, based on previous work (“Scream”) in her role as church mouse Lorraine. Her previous horror work showcases her leading capacity, and here she's continuing to diversify what she delivers to the screen, all while navigating entirely in the horror space, which her fans are gushing over!
There is notable editing here with intercuts of the adult film they're recording alongside frighteningly intimate shots of the older couple doing frankly god knows what. While the trailer and marketing display a pitchfork as the killer weapon, only one body falls victim to that, and the others... let's just say it gets creative. That's what fans should be intrigued by, West is delivering refreshing horror and one of the best for this year.
Riding into this, be aware there is a level of storytelling that can be studied from the start. However, it was a shame to witness, after so effectively introducing this world to viewers, to see it shorthanded in the second half. Characters interact less, and the focus shifts to the killers. We witness them in areas too close for comfort. Unfortunately, this means the characters are reduced to their focused and at times repetitive style of misplaced trust in their host before they pay the price for it. There isn't much else to say about the villains themselves. More would have been needed to make them stand out and honestly, threatening.
Regardless, this is no short of an achievement for horror and the fans who scramble to theaters to watch this will walk away satisfied, where accessible and safe.
Ti West is a familiar name in horror for those who watched "The Sacrament" and "The House of the Devil," often writing and directing his projects, and here in "X" he delivers an unforgettable night of terror. One that is enhanced with stylistic filmmaking approaches, the cast to blow it out the park, and score to unease your nerves.
"X" released in theaters on Friday, March 18.
For more of my reviews for Odyssey, check me out here, and follow me on Twitter @NoahsPlotting. Check out the podcast Plot Devices, where I host alongside Brandon King, a fellow reviewer and regular Odyssey contributor.