Horror, more than other genres, goes through a flip-flop of subgenre trends, often alternating between supernatural horror and the one currently reigning supreme, slasher. However, the slasher genre comes with much more homage and nostalgia, the recent 'Scream' and 'Halloween' legacy sequels, Netflix's 'Fear Street' and 'The Babysitter' films, 'Freaky' and 'Malignant' also fit here, subverting and using the genre's tropes to spoof or subvert. Ti West's latest, 'X', takes us back to the slasher's heyday, 1979, and it really feels like a lost film from back in the day.
In 'X', a pornographic film crew heads to a farm to shoot their latest piece - director Wayne (Martin Henderson, 'The Strangers: Prey at Night', 'Everest') and his girlfriend and wannabe star Maxine (Mia Goth, 'A Cure For Wellness', 'Emma.'), leading porn couple Bobby-Lynne (Brittany Snow, 'Pitch Perfect', 'Hairspray') and Jackson Hole (Kid Cudi credited as Scott Mescudi, 'Don't Look Up', 'Bill & Ted Face the Music', visionary cinematographer RJ (Owen Campbell, 'The Miseducation of Cameron Post', 'Nancy') who is planning to make the most artistic porn of all time, and his conservative girlfriend, Lorraine (Jenna Ortega, 'Scream' (2022), 'The Fallout'), is on sound. But as soon as they arrive, things feel strange with the older couple who own the farm - and as night falls, things begin to get bloody.
While the film is a massive throwback it feels more a film that was made in the 1970s then a nostalgia trip. With the adult filmmaking subplot being the perfect the plot device to lean into the nudity these films where know for and more importantly not shying away from the gory kills.
For slasher fansm 'X' is a magnificent return to the genre's roots, fitting perfectly alongside 'Friday the 13th', 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' and the original 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre'. While the film is a massive throwback, it feels more like a film that was made in the 1970s than a nostalgia trip. The adult filmmaking element is the perfect plot device to lean into the nudity these films were known for - and more importantly, it doesn't shy away from the gory kills.
Like most A24 horror films, the film is a slow burn, but the final act is a delight. The slow build-up really makes those kills really stick, with the landing many will be hoping for. The film is extremely creative in how it uses tension; the lake scene with the alligator comes to mind, but there are many great edge-of-your-seat moments.
'X' is the pure return to the slasher genre that die-hard fans will be craving, taking us back to its roots with sex and pure gore.