What do you get when you combine “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” with another cult classic like “Midsommar”? You’ll find yourself watching a little indie film titled simply “X,” a love letter to the rough, gritty classics of horror movie history from journeyman director Ti West (famous for the “V/H” segments. /S” and “Devil’s House”) and a relatively unknown cast of actors who harken back to the fresh faces that represented many of the genre-defining horror classics today.
Make no assumptions, it’s a slow-burn movie that eventually ramps up into an incomprehensible cacophony of craziness and cringiness that will leave you squirming in your chair as you try to decipher the madness you’re witnessing on screen.
The plot revolves around a strip club owner who ventures to make an X-rated movie with an ambitious screenwriter, a cameraman, an aspiring cinematographer, and a cast of strippers. They rent a boarding house to an elderly couple to film their “movie within a movie” called “The Farmer’s Daughter” on the premise that it is possible to make a “good dirty movie”.
Things, however, are anything but good as tension mounts when they begin to realize all is not as it seems and they may be in more danger than trying to earn an MPAA rating.
Mia Goth plays the lead starlet, a sex worker whose ambition is to leave the ordinary behind for her destiny in the stars. She is constantly referred to as having “the him factor” and reinforces herself with a mantra of “not accepting a life you don’t deserve.” This is played in stark contrast to the other character she plays, the eighty-year-old apparent pearl, owner’s wife.
This is where it becomes impossible to convey just how unimaginable some of the scenes in this film are. There are moments that will make your jaw drop before you lean back in utter horror at the audacity of what is being shown to you on screen. It’s not a negative, however. It’s by design that the main achievement of the narrative is how it contrasts the wisdom of the old (or perhaps the lack of responsibility) with the naivety of the young and what the audience is really there to see. It’s a meta-commentary on the very nature of horror as a genre disguised as dirty film deconstruction.
It’s also full of visuals not for the faint of heart.
The gore comes in copious amounts once the movie’s pacing picks up and there are plenty of sex scenes, not all of you may be interested in seeing. That’s not to say they aren’t a point. As previously described, they’re presented to reinforce the movie-within-a-movie meta commentary, and the scenes you may not be interested in seeing are the kind that will leave an impression on you even whether you close your eyes or blow. eye between your fingers.
There are moments in this movie that will be unlike anything you’ve ever seen before; which is a guarantee. This is also where comparisons to Tobe Hooper’s original classic “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” come into play. There’s one scene in particular that exemplifies the sheer madness of Hooper’s famous seminal work dinner table.
All told, “X” is a movie that absolutely should be seen in a theatrical setting, if only to soak up the atmosphere of the audience experiencing who you are. It’s a movie full of visceral visuals with more than just gore to unveil its deeper themes and metaphor.
Any horror movie that can elicit that kind of reaction is a modern slasher classic and takes its place as a worthy successor in the pantheon of masterpieces.
– “X” is rated R and is screening at Marquee Cinemas, Galleria 14, Beckley.