There are bloody good reasons Y horror fans should Z this movie.
“X” is one of the most entertaining gore movies in recent memory. Not the kind of gore that torture porn fans crave in the “Saw” franchise, but the kind of gore that made Michael Myers, Jason, and Freddy Kruger famous. But this isn’t a commercial film; it’s an elevated horror feature released by A24.
Just last month, I liked the Foo Fighters horror film “Studio 666” for its attitude and levity. But I like “X” even more for its ability to take no prisoners and provide nostalgia to the slasher films, as well as some erotic pleasures, best known in the 70s. In fact, the story is set in 1979, and the premise does involve the filming of a porno. Hence the name “X” as in Rated X.
We meet the sound girl and would-be actress Lorraine (Jenna Ortega), the sexy actress Bobby-Lynne (Britney Snow), the war vet and actor Jackson (Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi), the executive producer Wayne (Martin Henderson), his cokehead and actress girlfriend Maxine (Mia Goth), and the director RJ (Owen Campbell). Wayne pays an old farmer named Howard (Stephen Ure) to let them use his house to make their porno.
Maxine starts to ponder if they picked the wrong place to film the movie, especially when the farmer’s home has no lights on, and his wife Pearl (also played by Goth disguised by make-up) begins to creep her out.
Maybe she’s right to worry, especially since the cast and crew get slaughtered one by one. It might be a little too dark to see at times, but you can still see and feel the murders that pop by whether you expect them or not. I usually would cover my ears to keep myself from getting a heart attack, but with “X,” I didn’t need to worry about that, because the sound isn’t too loud.
Written, produced, edited, and directed by Ti West (“The Sacrament,” “The Innkeepers”), “X” speaks for itself in many ways. It has nostalgia to slasher and prono flicks, and this one’s rated R. It has actors who aren’t afraid to deal with the pleasures and gore. And it keeps you at the edge of your seat, unlike most commercial horror flicks.
The performances from the cast are ridiculously amazing. Goth gives her best performance since “High Life” as both the girl and old lady. As the girl, she looks like she could be the one to get out alive, and she provides some of the best looking coke lines I’ve ever seen on film. Kudos to cinematographer Eliot Rocket. And as the old lady, she looks creepy. Not “The Shining” creepy, but just horror movie old lady creepy. And I mean no disrespect to the elderly.
Kid Cudi also has the right kind of attitude and sex appeal, when he gets in bed on film and talks about his service. Ortega, who is so far having a great year at the movies (“Scream,” “Studio 666,” and “The Fallout”), is really broadening her horizons, even if it is a small role for her. And Ure is dark and sinister as the Goth character. In fact, they have a scene that represents whacked-out terror.
This is the kind of horror movie I would also recommend to Ari Aster, who brought the genre to new heights in “Hereditary” and “Midsommer.” Or maybe Radio Silence, according to “Ready or Not” and “Scream.” And I’m sure Wes Craven would have loved this movie, too. And It’s also the kind of movie I would recommend as a 7PM picture and a special midnight showing, which I hope it will become.
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