Are you a horror fan? And when I say horror I don’t mean the ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ or ‘Silence of the Lambs’ type. I’m talking more along the lines of ‘Texas Chainsaw’ and ‘Friday the 13th’. Gore. Titties. Cheap thrills. If you aren’t turned off by that sort of thing then you need to check out ‘X’.
The premise is simple. A group of porn filmmakers rent a secluded cabin to film their next movie. Then, one by one, they all start getting murdered.
The ads alone will give away the fact that ‘X’ is inspired by the slashers mentioned earlier. Modern horror directors paying homage to their influences from the 70s/80s has been a trend for some years now. The ones that are good have meat to them. Something beyond the homage. The question going in is this: does ‘X’ offer anything more than nostalgia? The answer is yes. It offers more than a movie like this has a right to.
There is a point—right before we go into the second act—where the movie takes a little time to build up some plot. It introduces some backstory that does not feel boring or forced at all. It goes over so well that you forget you came here to see people get butchered. The backstory, along with some expertly written dark/shock comedy, really build up this screenplay and go on to create a highly memorable moment towards the end. A scene that blurs the lines between horror and comedy. If you see it you’ll know what I mean. I hate to run the ‘Texas Chainsaw’ comparisons into the ground, but it really does feel reminiscent of the Grandpa scene in that movie and works just as well.
Don’t get the wrong idea though. This movie’s main focus is horror and it succeeds on that front too. Not only are the kills gnarly and the effects pretty good looking, it actually manages to be genuinely eerie. Ti West has a track record of success in this genre. ‘House of the Devil’ showcases his skill of creating suspense through visuals, even if it is a more subdued film. In ‘X’, the shadows, the blood, the setting, all come into play in the cinematography to create a creepy image. There are also some old school cinematography techniques utilized here but they somehow felt fresh and not out of place in this movie.
And so, ‘X’ is a solid horror movie. One worth seeing in theaters if this sounds like your style. I’ve asked a few horror fans I know personally if they’ve seen this and, to my surprise, they hadn’t even heard of it. ‘X’ has an audience. Clearly, or else it wouldn’t be getting such good reviews and doing well in the box office. Still, this seems to be a movie that will go under the radar. No oscars for this one and there will be a lot of people who are unaware that it exists. But its made for people who like slashers. And any fan of the genre should be able to see, ‘X’ is doing what it does very well.