In 1979, a small group of filmmakers and performers, hip to the nascent straight-to-video market, head to a remote rented farmhouse to make a porn movie. Unfortunately for them, they're actually in a horror movie. As they pull up to the rural house owned by a creepy old couple, you might guess that their shooting schedule will require some reworking.
You might also place bets on which characters, if any, will be returning home.
Ti West, writer and director, has made a name for himself in indie horror for his strong execution of subject matter, his love of old horror movies, and his fascination with the trashier aspects of pop culture, especially 1970s Grindhouse. Unlike some better-known directors, he has fun undermining and playing the pulp tropes he encounters, instead of just lovingly imitating what others have done before.
Mia Goth stars in two lead roles, the young and beautiful wannabe porn star Max Minx and the aged, emotionally-damaged Psycho-Biddy Pearl. The performances are brilliant and tragic, credible even in the film's constructed and darkly comic world. Overall, the acting is strong, mostly-young performers who have invested themselves in the material, no matter how bizarre and absurd it may become.
The film features impressive production on a comparatively modest budget and boasts a killer soundtrack. I was slightly put off only by the creepy old age make-up; it's a little obvious.
X works on a number of levels: frequently clever splatter/slasher movie, fun-filled dark comedy, and commentary on age and youth. It works even better if you really like the horror genre and also have a special place in your heart for the trashier aspects of pop culture. Whatever happened to Texas Chainsaw Psycho Alligator Boogie Nights at the Old Dark Grindhouse on Halloween, anyway?
Mia Goth as Maxine "Max" Minx and Pearl
Jenna Ortega as Lorraine
Brittany Snow as Bobby-Lynne
Scott Mescudi as Jackson Hole
Martin Henderson as Wayne Gilroy
Owen Campbell as RJ Nichols
Stephen Ure as Howard
James Gaylyn as Sheriff Dentler
This not-for-all-tastes film, which is not for all tastes, is not, in fact, for all tastes. I suspect the same is true of the already-released prequel and the forthcoming sequel.
Everything Is Going to Be Fine: The 2022 Halloween Horrorquest