Add two more X’s to this movie’s title, and you would be watching the exact type of movie the characters in this film are making. A porno movie shoot becomes a bloodsoaked nightmare in Ti West’s X, a new slasher flick from A24. The film opens with a detective investigating an empty house. The floors are stained in blood, and we then cut back to 24 hours earlier in a classic case of a film opening with the ending scene. This sets the stage for an original, entertaining throwback slasher right out of the ’70s and ’80s with a dark and humorous twist.
When a slasher movie is done right, it can be an incredible combination of fun and disturbing. In 2022 alone, we have already gotten slashers such as Scream and Texas Chainsaw Massacre as Hollywood has attempted to relaunch classic franchises. But an original slasher has arrived on our doorsteps, and it is pretty enjoyable. Moreover, it’s a surprisingly unique take on a genre that hinges on all of its movies having similar premises.
The thing with slashers is that they boil down to the same essential ingredients: a group of people is stalked and killed by a murderer. But X has original ideas that make the film unique. Many slashers feature a killer in a scary mask, and some will wait until the final act for the killer to take it off, revealing it was one of the main characters. However, this movie’s story is structured differently. The killers don’t wear masks, and you have a good feeling of who the killers will be from the beginning. The fact that the movie doesn’t feel the need to keep you guessing while also not needing scary masks to make the killers scary makes this movie sublime.
Furthermore, while many slashers feature a big opening kill scene and keep the kills coming, West is very patient with his story. As a result, the film’s first half features no kills, building our anticipation for it. The build-up can sometimes drag because you’re waiting for the bloodshed to begin, but it takes a while to get there. Fortunately, West sets the stage with a fascinating story with adult film actors, the director’s goal to make a great porn film, and occasional moments of tension that set the mood for what is yet to come, such as one excellent aerial shot.
When the film’s second half kicks in, the movie goes full slasher. Characters are killed in bloody, gory fashion, and West helms his horror sequences well. He makes wise choices with his camera angles, knowing how to stage a kill scene to make it investing. This film is delightfully creepy and unique with violence that perfectly matches this movie’s graphic nature. The sound design with details like bees buzzing and water dripping enhance the suspense of the horror sequences.
This is a wickedly well-edited film with phenomenal performances from the cast. After Jenna Ortega’s role from earlier this year in Scream, she is becoming an excellent scream queen as she shines in this film. Scott Mescudi’s venture into acting continues in a movie where he is so natural that he doesn’t feel like he is performing. Yet the best part of this movie is Mia Goth, who commands the screen with her presence as she is creepy and captivating to watch.
X‘s gory violence matched with sexual imagery makes for a uniquely entertaining slasher, albeit one that you may not be in a rush to watch again due to how uncomfortable it is. However, everything about this film feels symbolically rich, with themes about aging and sexual desires and the protagonist and antagonist reflecting each other in many different ways. This is an intelligent film made for those looking for more class than typical of a slasher while also being a darkly funny, well-directed horror movie.
As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 7 equates to “Good.” A successful piece of entertainment that is worth checking out, but it may not appeal to everyone.