The horror genre has done pretty much everything ever since movies have existed. So it’s hard to do something original and new. That being said, X tried to be original while also falling back on horror tropes we’ve come to know for decades now. They deserve the benefit of the doubt because despite falling back on things we’ve seen in horror movies before, the film is pretty entertaining and engaging.
A group of would-be filmmakers in 1979 led by Wayne (Martin Henderson) decide to rent a cabin adjacent to a farm in rural Texas to make an adult film. While there, the old couple living in the house on the hill who own the cabin see what they are doing and don’t take it too lightly. Pretty horrific things start to happen to the actors Bobby-Lynne (Brittany Snow), Jackson Hole (Kid Cudi), and Maxine (Mia Goth), and the filmmakers RJ (Owen Campbell) and Lorraine (Jenna Ortega).
The film has some good characters, and they are very engaging to watch on screen. The filmmaking scenes look slightly different from the actual scenes of the film we are watching, but that doesn’t matter because both are shot nicely by the filmmaker and writer Ti West. He understands the film he’s trying to make, which shows in the end product. His career up to this point prepared him for this filmmaking experience.
The cast is all fantastic to get to know as the film progresses. They all have interesting little parts that make them stand out individually. The quirkiness and sexiness of Goths’ character are what draws the viewer to her instantly. She wants to be a star, which that is what’s interesting about her. The others are more seasoned veterans, but they know their lot in life and are ok with it. The filmmakers have their issues, but we still are rooting for them in the end.
The film has a great aesthetic to it that I love. The late ’70s is an interesting area for hairstyles, clothes, and cars. The film does a great job of fleshing this era of our country out in little ways like those I mentioned. The horror movies of that genre are very similar to this film in many ways. A group of people go somewhere or are vacationing somewhere, and bad things start to happen to them. It is a familiar trope in Hollywood, especially in horror films. I enjoyed the journey these characters were on, even though I’ve seen it before.
The film relies on some jump scares but also has a lot of graphic, bloody scenes to go with the jump scares. Things we see early in the film are paid off later in the movie. Some edge-of-your-seat moments are filmed perfectly to garner an emotional response. A framing device that bears a lot of fruit and brings some laughs at the end. This film has some funny moments, but it’s more intense and very atmospheric to a tee.
X does a lot right despite falling back on familiar horror tropes. Ti West creates an atmosphere of a great horror film while also making the characters compelling and engaging. Mia Goth is the standout in the cast, but they are all terrific in their various roles. The score is also very moody and brings an element of dread at times. The film is shot beautifully and is very lovely to look at throughout. This film is worth your time. X marks the spot for this genre film.
Dan Skip Allen
Sean Borlman Founder/EIC disappointment media