New horror picture “X” is a scary good time


Photo courtesy of IMDb

Mia Goth stars in “X.”

My favorite movie of all time is 1981’s “The Evil Dead.” The film was directed by 20-year-old Sam Raimi, who dropped out of college at Michigan State with the goal of directing his first feature-length film.

With $90,000 in loans from his family and investors, Raimi and his friends — including a young Bruce Campbell — created one of the most iconic and disturbing horror films of all time. I not only love “The Evil Dead” for its lo-fi aesthetic, but also the ambition and dedication of the creators.

“X” is the brand new horror picture from director Ti West, centering around a crew of adult actors and filmmakers who, one night in 1979, travel to a remote farm to create a porn film. Things go wrong when the elderly residents of the farm begin to snoop around and punish our protagonists for their deviant behavior.

The film pays homage to the independent horror cinema of the late seventies and early eighties like “The Evil Dead” and the enduring slasher genre.

In interviews, Ti West has been preaching how horror and porn have had similar histories and uses the two interchangeably.

“I didn’t want to make a movie about people making a horror movie. That’s too meta for me,” West says. “But if you could show people making an adult film, you could kind of get the gist of making any kind of film.”

The film is gory and exploitative, but that just makes it more endearing.

One of the strongest aspects of the film is its all-star cast. The frontwoman, Mia Goth, masterfully plays both the main character Maxine Minx, but also the elderly murderer Pearl. The Pearl makeup was consistently convincing, and I only noticed they were the same person while I was looking at the credits.

The supporting cast is equally as loaded, Brittany Snow, Scott Mescudi and Martin Henderson play sleazy pornstars that give off both an endearing and shifty presence. The film also has Owen Campbell and “Scream” star Jenny Ortega who run the camera and sound while comedically trying to turn the porn film into an arthouse picture. Everyone feels perfectly cast for their roles, and I was genuinely sad to see them get picked off.

I also really enjoyed the themes present in the film. Besides focusing on the horror of aging, and the duality of Mia Goth’s characters, the film also analyzes the societal factors that spawned the slasher genre.

Slasher films often are criticized for being a byproduct of the puritanical society of the time for punishing characters who fall outside of the “final girl” trope. “Final girls” are typically young, white, virgin women who are able to overcome the villain or survive the longest which typically is portrayed as a result of their modesty.

Throughout “X,” there is constant preaching on the televisions and radios of the rural Texas residents — setting up the importance of religion during the time and location in which this film takes place. Toward the end, devout Catholic Pearl says her murder rampage is ethically not too different from Mia’s deviant lifestyle, which alongside other moments in the film, helps to subvert the traditional slasher genre and the “final girl” trope.

I have seen this film twice now, and I am absolutely in love with it. The way it wears its influences on its sleeve and makes meta-commentary on some of my favorite films makes me admittedly biased toward it, but absolutely enamored with it.

I cannot wait for my $55 Online Ceramics “X” shirt to come in the mail and for the prequel “Pearl,” which apparently has already been fully shot.

Rating: 10/10