One of the most satisfying experiences I’ve had going to the movies in many moons is when I went to see Ti West’s X. It just looked so glorious on the big screen with its huge skies, stark horizons, and broad, eye-popping aerial shots. It’s like an exquisite painting that uses every inch of the canvas properly, a perfectly designed iconic flag I cannot resist saluting. And of course, it stands on the shoulders of giants proudly declaring its loyalty to horror greats like Hitchcock, De Palma, Carpenter, and especially, the one and only, Tobe Hooper. Yet I forgot to post about it and the reason for that is that I talked about the movie so much to myself inside my head that I honestly thought that I had. But I recently snagged a copy on DVD and watched it again so now’s the perfect time to remedy that.
It’s 1979 and Wayne Gilroy (Martin Henderson) has a brilliant plan to take advantage of the burgeoning home video market by producing a porn movie. He gathers together the perfect cast with his main-squeeze, starry-eyed Maxine Minx (Mia Goth), leggy blonde bombshell Bobby-Lynne (Brittany Snow), and the generously endowed Jackson Hole (Kid Cudi). Helping out with directing duties is RJ (Owen Campbell) who brings along his meek girlfriend Lorraine (Jenny Ortega) to handle sound. The film is to be called “The Farmer’s Daughters” so Wayne rents out a rustic farmhouse in the middle of Texas (actually New Zealand) from two of the scariest oldsters you ever laid eyes on. Things get off to an uncomfortable and shaky start and go swiftly downhill from there. I’m not going to give anything away but it’s like watching that “American Gothic” painting by Grant Wood being ripped to shreds by an alligator but both the figures in the painting and the alligator are aging and decomposing at an accelerated speed.
There’s nothing quite like watching a horror film made by someone who truly loves the genre and X sends off love letter vibes in every frame. There’s a certain type of eerie, menacing magic going on here that truly transports; it’s like strolling at dusk through a midsummer night’s nightmare and when the you-know-what hits the fan the horror is palpable and feels as ancient and ubiquitous as time itself. My public service announcement is that if you suffer to any degree with gerascophobia (fear of aging) make sure you bring a blanket to hide under while watching this movie. I’m pretty sure I grew a gray beard and developed liver spots before the end credits.
Unsurprisingly and as usual, a major reason that I hold this film in such high regard is because of the people in it and the humanity it displays even in its darkest moments. Writer, director, producer, and editor Ti West gallantly makes a point not to look down upon, judge, or mock his rag-tag team of complicated yet personable outsiders. In one simple scene, they explain themselves and their outlooks and you kind of have to admire their freedom and ability to live outside societal norms unapologetically. It doesn’t hurt that Britney Snow’s Bobby Lynne sings a surprisingly moving rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” which seems to momentarily stop the world from spinning. X is simply great filmmaking that is capable of conjuring up a cornucopia of emotions, horror being just one of them. Now, I better go buy some hair dye to cover this gray and maybe get some Geritol and prune juice while I’m at it. (Sobs quietly). Hey, why didn’t I get a senior discount when I bought my movie ticket!?! Whippersnappers!
So glad to see Ti West getting his groove back. House of the Devil and The Innkeepers are two of my favorite horror films. To invoke the cliche, West cranks the tension up to 11.
“Brittany Snow”…seriously? Could they have gotten an actress with a more authentic sounding porn name than Brittany Snow?
I loved this one so so much. I was so excited for it and it was even better than I could have hoped for.
After seeing X a couple of months ago, I actually got in a bit of a funk. The movie affected me a lot more than a horror movie should. It got me considering my own aging and how Ill never get my youth back again. It also made me think about age-ism and how I’m starting to be a tad sensitive about how younger people treat me. When the scene came where the two oldsters start doing the horizontal bop, I (and I assume everyone else) was slightly horrified….but then I caught myself and thought, “Should I be feeling this way? Is my knee-jerk reaction to seeing a couple of old people mess around appropriate? Did Ti West just punk me????”
Yeah….X was not only a damn good film….it made me think! It probably hit home even harder because I lost my wife last year and I’ll never be able to grow old(er) with her now. But anyhow….really enjoyed X and look forward to the prequel!
HOUSE OF THE DEVIL & THE INNKEEPERS are both awesome. West really is a great talent and he makes most directors seem like they are sleeping on the job in comparison. I wish we got a new film by him more often. Apparently, he did film a prequel to X back to back so it won’t be too long before he thankfully delivers again.
Brittany Snow ended up being my favorite in this movie. It’s a very brave performance and I’ve completely forgiven her for starring in the Prom Night remake. She’s so good.
I feel the same way. Such a satisfying and well-done movie. I wish my screen grabs could do it justice but it must be seen to be believed.
Very sorry about your wife. This movie hit me hard with the age thing too and how it really forced you to be uncomfortable with it. And I have to say I feel like I aged 10 years in the last two and it’s creeping me out on the daily! But that’s what makes X so great. It’s entertaining but it’s also really disturbing and profound at the same time. Definitely a keeper!