Set in the blistering heat of Houston in 1979, X follows a group of low-budget pornographic filmmakers who are filming a new porno in a secluded farmhouse owned by a mysterious older couple who agree to let the group of filmmakers rent the house for the time they need it. As the film unravels, you get to know more and more about the cast of characters that are seemingly simple at their surface – the leading lady, the dorky camera man, the sleazy producer, etc. But X does an exceptional job at both developing its characters in interesting ways as well as setting up an eery, visceral atmosphere for them to interact within.

Ti West is a filmmaker that I greatly admire – he has certainly evolved over the years, but he always seemingly keeps a sense of authenticity and an intentional amateur feeling in his pieces of work. X just might be his best film yet – and not just because it’s his most scary film to date! While the film is certainly creepy and genuinely effective in terms of its gore, scares, and overall mood – the most impressive element for me was the way Ti West intertwines all the characters and stories into some truly rich themes of horror, art, and sexualization.

The performances are also a huge element to why this film works as well as it does. X admittedly takes some time to get to the thrills, so it feels imperative that the film at least gets you invested within the characters you’ll be following. While not every character is necessarily likeable by design, every performer, from Kid Cudi to Jenna Ortega, comes to play in their roles and each bring something different to the table to make this feel like a truly diverse cast of characters in many different respects. But it’s the performance of Mia Goth that is truly the standout in X – I’ve always been a fan of Mia Goth as an actress, but I’ve never seen her better than she is here. She is full of so much charisma and genuine charm that you can’t help but adore her and mark her down as one of the best final girls of recent memory.

There is very little that I have to say in terms of negatives. X is just the complete package in this day and age of horror films. It’s restrained enough that it doesn’t feel too simplistic or like torture porn, but knows exactly when to deliver its thrills and chills and works its audience perfectly. When it’s funny, it’s hilarious; when it’s thought-provoking, it feels genuinely insightful; and when it’s horrific, it feels absolutely gnarly and brutal in a way that you’ve come to expect from Ti West. I loved every single minute of this.


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