I’ve been a fan of Ti West for a while now. Every time it looked like he was getting traction or had made something that would be a hit, it never seemed to come to anything. His films were always well received, but unlike the Get Outs and Hereditarys of the world, his films seemed to fly under the radar. Perhaps with X, and the prequel Pearl, that tide has turned and the dude will get his mainstream dues.
Take the above paragraph, and replace Ti West’s name with Mia Goth’s. Mia Goth has appeared in a number of high and low profiles horror movies in the last decade, but in 2022 her name skyrocketed both within the horror world and beyond, with one of the prime reasons being her dual role here in X. She plays an aspiring adult performer who is travelling with a small cast and crew to the middle of nowhere to make a new movie, hopefully beyond the prying eyes of the law and anyone else. Given that the opening scene of the movie, reminiscent of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (which is one of a number of clear influences), sees police encountering a scene of death and carnage, we can guess that this group of people are heading into something nasty. In typical Ti West fashion, the film unravels at its own pace with tension and intrigue and the threat of violence growing step by step.
Mia Goth’s Maxine is joined by her McConaghy-esque Producer boyfriend, two other performers, and a director/assistant couple. They arrive at a nicer looking cabin in the woods in the Texas countryside owned by a wizened old farmer Howard and his equally decrepit wife Pearl, also played by Goth. Neither Pearl nor Howard seem like the most approachable people, but given their age it seems obvious that they aren’t much of a threat. Being a horror movie with Chainsaw vibes, we know that there’s more to the elderly couple than meets the eye. What’s cool is that we get this dual story in which we learn about both parties – the couple, and the porn team. We see the intentions of each side and wait for them to clash, and we are drip-feed little character moments which both heightens the immediate tension but makes each person fully formed.
This being a horror movie ostensibly set in the amateur porn world – yes, you can expect plenty of sex and violence. Once the gore comes, it comes thick and fast, and it is often of the sudden brutal sort which West is known for. Together with the pumping soundtrack and the near ludicrous nature of the antagonist, X becomes a highly entertaining old-school popcorn movie, the sort of thing you almost need to see in a drive through with your partner, surrounded by cars filled with screaming, fondling couples. And yet it’s more – the performances are better than what you would have seen in those old-school movies, the characters more nuanced, the screenplay smarter. Out of the recent horror movies I’ve subjected my wife too, this is the one she has enjoyed most. With both Goth and West, and now a Wednesday famous Ortega on the rise, I hope to see more more these guys.
Let us know what you think in the comments!