X review: a horror movie about what really terrifies us

Kid Cudi, Jenna Ortega and others in a scene from X, from A24 Entertainment.

X, from distributor Arthouse A24, is a manicured movie about what really terrifies us. Writer/Director Ty WestDevil’s houseA filmmaker so smart and thoughtful that he doesn’t think traditional scammers are at the top of our list of concerns. He knows that the youth-obsessed society is far more afraid not just of getting old, but of facing the fact that old people may still have some very annoying desires.

Set in Texas in 1979, the movie stars Mia Goth as Maxine, an aspiring young porn artist who travels with her older producer boyfriend (Martin Henderson) to a remote farm outside of Houston to shoot an adult movie. Along the way are two other actors (Kid Cody and Brittany Snow), as well as the director and voiceover (Owen Campbell and Gina Ortega), the latter of whom quickly decides that her best talent lies in front of the camera, not behind it. He. She. The ambition of all those involved in the pornographic film industry reflects the similar aspirations of the adult film industry owners in dance nights. This is only the first of many, many references to other films in X.

In looks, the ranch is isolated and intimidating, and the group’s first interaction with old owner (Stephen Orr), Howard, comes at the business end of a rifle. Howard makes it clear that he doesn’t approve of any youth scams on his property (and that’s before he realizes what they’re actually doing). He claims that he wants to protect his elderly wife, Pearl, from any traumas. But only who needs protection – and who – quickly develops complex.

In other words, it’s all screaming for the group to get the hell out of there. But X Wouldn’t be in imitation of slasher movies like Friday the 13thy or Texas Chain Saw Massacre (The film honors both) If the characters have enough sense not to walk into situations that clearly indicate their downfall. However, these are not the stupid and helpless twenties common in the genre of films. On the contrary, they are capable and intelligent. But West wants to show that despite his physical superiority over free-roaming beasts, ahem, the visitors are nevertheless doomed to their ignorance and inexperience, and underestimate the threats on the farm until it’s too late. It never occurred to them to think what some people might still want – or could do.

Film about the film industry

Gina Ortega holds a microphone in a barn at X.

West has worked in horror for a long time and is in complete control of both the genre’s models and its career. Its camera is streamlined but not flashy, and it finds the right muted colors and textures to convey the grain of ’70s movie stock without making the movie look like a carefully curated Instagram account. He said he wanted to make a more “high profile” slant picture, and it’s hard to say he didn’t work out.

The film begins, and is later repeated, with a shot from inside a barn that evokes the image of Charles Laughton hunter night, Robert Mitchum terrorizes a family on a farm. There is also at least one verbal reference and two visual references sociological patient. West follows an early scene in which a character recalls the French New Wave by giving a grizzly homage to the famous traffic accident sequence in the Jean-Luc Godard story. weekend. A shot of Maxine running away from the farm straight from the ’70s classic Terrence Malick, Heaven days. Film students and students of slasher films are sure to discover many references during frequent screenings.

Mia Goth in a scene from the movie X, from A24 Entertainment.

Fortunately, allusions are carefully incorporated and have thematic resonance with the films that invoke them. The West has made cinema that engages in intelligent dialogue with other cinema – a far cry from the shining cues in the universe, for example, star Wars And Marvel movies that serve fans but don’t usually have a greater purpose.

X earns its place among the best A24

Shocking scene in a barn from X, from A24 Entertainment.

Given all of that, is the movie too loud for its genre? Does West’s insistence on questioning the relationship between cinema and youthful beauty hurt some suspense? Maybe a little. The middle verb can be tighter. And the last scroll hits the viewer with a paradox. It is an unnecessary reveal also present on the nose compared to the accuracy of what comes before it.

In general, though, X It is a film that does well even for those who haven’t had a few semesters of film studies. The cast is charismatic. There are moments of visual brilliance, like when the movie goes from a passionate kiss to a cow chew. And the last third of the image delivers all the required tremors and shocks of this kind. Still, in imitation A24 horror like hereditaryAnd the midsummerAnd the the witchThe movie puts ideas at the forefront as much as the bloodshed. West knows that slasher movies and porn are less about violence and sex, respectively, and more about trauma and foreplay than social abuse. With XHe made a film in which the most disturbing moments force the viewer to question what society really considers taboo and why.