“X” Delivers, But There’s a Better Movie Buried Within.

Mia Goth

Baby Don’t Fear the Reaper

“X” is director Ti West’s hommage to 20th-century slasher films, in particular, Tobe Hooper’s 1974 “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and John Carpenter’s “Halloween. In fact, we even get an extended cut of Blue Oyster Cult’s “Baby Don’t Fear the Reaper“, during one of the killings. Quite a bit more, but less effective, than the few bars John Carpenter gave us back in 1978.

X

Mia Goth

It’s 1979, and ambitious pornographic actress Maxine Minx (Mia Goth) is driving on the Texan backroads with her adult movie producer boyfriend Wayne (Martin Henderson), fellow adult actors Bobby-Lynne (Brittany Snow) and Jackson Hole (Scott Mescudi), director RJ (Owen Campbell) and RJ’s girlfriend Lorraine (Jenny Ortega) to shoot an adult film. The video revolution is just about to happen and they want to be part of it. The group arrives at the property of an elderly couple Howard and Pearl in whose guesthouse they plan to shoot their film titled “The Farmer’s Daughter“. Howard is hostile to the group while Pearl strikes a a vaguely sinister pose in the background.

Auteurist Tendencies

As the film progresses, we realize that RJ has some buried auteurist tendencies. He liberally references the French New Wave and Hitchcock’s “Psycho”. This makes things deliciously meta for those of us in the know. Producerr Wayne however, although generally happy with the rushes, wants a less complex and more traditional (!) adult movie.

X

Maxine and Pearl

The films first 45 minutes are smart and knowing with a nice sense of foreboding. All hail the director! There is a scene on a lake involving Maxine and an alligator, strikingly filmed in an overhead shot, that is both edge-of-your-seat thrilling and funny. Ditto, the creepy sequence where Maxine visits Pearl inside the main house (again shades of “Psycho” ) where Pearl bemoans her lost youth, makes it clear that she is jealous of Maxine and also, it would seem, tries to seduce her. Pearl later witnesses Maxine having sex with Jackson and is obviously aroused.

Stevie Nicks

One of the film’s themes up to this point, is aging and the envy of youth. So when Bobby-Lynne (accompanied by Jackson on guitar) sings Stevie Nick’s “Landslide”, one of the best songs ever written about aging (kudos here to Brittany Snow for her lovely delivery), it’s an inspired moment.

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The Slaughter Begins!

Unfortunately, although the aging theme lingers, you begin to feel that their is a better, more complex movie living inside of “X” that is being left behind. That said, there is a prequel that was shot simultaneously with this movie. So let’s wait and see what that one has to add to the equation.

Once the slaughter begins, it begins in earnest and most of our cast are eliminated in a very short period of time. As in all the best slasher flicks, each character’s elimination is unique, shocking and always accompanied by some deadpan humor.

So , although “X” is not quite on the genius level of Ari Aster, it is effective horror and there is a prequel on the way.

NOW SHOWING AT SELECT MOVIE THEATRES.

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