In theaters now is X, Ti West's latest horror film that looks and feels like an ode to slasher flicks of the 1970s. X is simple at its core: a group of filmmakers attempts to make a porno on a remote farm and get more than they bargained for when they discover the owners of the said farm are not quite what they seem. But aspiring starlet Maxine (Mia Goth) is not about to let anything get between her dreams of stardom.
X has a lot going for it. Ti West completely nails the era of the film; every frame feels authentic to the point where it almost feels like a movie made in the 1970s, not just one set then. It also has a totally committed cast in addition to Goth, with Brittany Snow, Jenna Ortega, Owen Campbell, Kid Cudi, and Martin Henderson each going all out with their performances. Henderson and Snow in particular are a hoot and make the movie as funny as it is suspenseful. X walks the line of comedy and horror incredibly well and is a delightful mix of the two genres, with a whole lot of sex thrown in for good measure (though honestly, probably too much for my liking). Though seeing how sex drives so much of the overall plot, as well as the individual motivations of these characters it makes sense how present it is, even if I personally felt that it could have been used a little less liberally. On a related note, X gives us one of the horniest and kookiest antagonists in a horror film in a very long time, and their actions all throughout are simultaneously fascinating, as well as absolute nightmare fuel.
Though X is a really solid horror film, two things about it are keeping it from being truly great. The first is that it really takes its time to get going, which actually wouldn't be that big of a problem for me if it weren't for the second issue which is that once it finally does start moving along it resolves itself way too quickly. It feels like the real fun is finally starting right when it ends. As such, our final girl doesn't really go through hell and back to earn that mantle, she just kinda has it fall into her lap. It feels frustrating to have so much set up with not quite the payoff you hope for, even if it is still a really fun ride. Still, X is fun enough and likable enough to still appreciate its efforts and not feel too let down by the film as a whole.
X is nothing revolutionary in terms of horror, but it's a really great throwback that feels old and new at the same time. It also is a horror movie with interesting things to say about both sex, as well as aging. I appreciated X on many levels, but I wouldn't be interested in what it had to say if it wasn't totally engaging first and foremost which it absolutely is. Its commentary only works because of how solid the film is as a whole.