★★★★★ out of ★★★★★
Written and Directed by Ti West
When A24 released the trailer for director Ti West’s return to horror movies, X, they promised, “one goddamn fucked up horror picture” and boy did they deliver! Last night the film had its world premiere at the Stateside Theater in Austin as the feature Midnighter Selection of the SXSW Film Festival. Only 300 fans were able to make it in and I was lucky enough to be one of them.
The general premise of the film is that in 1979, a film crew has rented a farmhouse in rural Texas, owned by a decrepit, elderly couple (who may or may not be religious fanatics who think sex is a big no-no). They are there to make a porno (a good adult film) called “The Farmer’s Daughters”. The crew: producer and money man Wayne (Martin Henderson), his soon-to-be fiancé and ingenue Maxine (Mia Goth), plus stars Bobby-Lynne (Brittany Snow) and Jackson (Scott Mescudi). Bringing this production to life are the cameraman, RJ (Owen Campbell) and sound girl, Lorraine (Jenna Ortega). Since it’s a Ti West film you know this won’t be a simple film shoot and stuff is gonna go wrong…really, really wrong.
Boy, was it great to be back at a festival experiencing this film! There were laughs, awesome jump scares, a few crowd-wide “oh shit” moments (including one in the Q&A!) and LOTS of cheering. After the film West asked the audience to keep the secrets of the film for a few more days so you’re not going to get any more plot points from me.
What I will say is that X was not what I expected at all. The trailer gave major Texas Chainsaw vibes so I was not expecting to laugh as much as I did nor was I anticipating that the film would have incredibly thoughtful insights on age and sexuality. It is also absolutely fantastic to watch with breathtaking long, sweeping shots mixed with up-close scares. West has always excelled at steeping the viewer in the timeframe of the film and you’ll need to shower after this film to wash the 70’s off.
During the Q&A following the film, West said that he set out to make a love letter to independent film so making a horror film about a porno film made sense because both of these genres were the independent films of the ’70s. Both had scrappy yet dedicated crews pulling it all together to make the films they wanted to make and not what the mainstream expected…and that’s exactly what West and his crew did here.
X is coming to theaters Friday, March 18th so go out and experience this for yourself. Some bonus good news: In a rarity for Ti West, a prequel has already been completed for this film, showing a great deal of confidence from the Producers at A24, the purveyors of high-quality boutique horror films. You can check out the announcement of the prequel from our affiliated partners at Fangoria.
For more Ti West love from us here at The Scariest Things, check out our House of the Devil podcast episode, Workplace Horror where we discuss The Innkeepers and Cults! where we discuss The Sacrament.
Review by Liz Williams