Ti West, best known for his work on the horror films The House of the Devil and The Innkeepers, made a splash with his new film X. Considered a slasher—a subgenre of horror involving extreme blood and gore—X gets right what a lot of other slashers get wrong: you still need a good story, even if it’s bathed in blood.
By pairing a throwback-style slasher film with an intriguing story and interesting characters, X is the fun and revitalizing type of movie that the horror genre needs.
The film stars Kid Cudi, Jenna Ortega, and Mia Goth as young filmmakers attempting to shoot a pornographic movie in the late ’70s. The group decides to rent out a farmhouse from an intimidatingly creepy older couple who doesn’t seem to know about the film. When the home owners do find out, things go sideways, and the crew looks to find a way off the farm.
The storytelling of X remains a key part of the movie, which is rare for a slasher movie. It’s common for overly bloody movies to ditch a story altogether in favor of gore for gore’s sake. But this movie doesn’t do that. Instead, there’s a reason behind each kill, all leading toward a single end.
What makes the story even better is that it makes an old trick seem new. Young kids stuck on a murderous farm sounds like the setup for Texas Chainsaw Massacre. But West takes the concept, creates unique and interesting characters, and makes an original story out of the formula.
Each actor’s prowess also propels the storyline, making it a unique slasher film. Cudi plays a cool, laid-back, Vietnam veteran enjoying his role in the pornographic movie. Ortega captures the curious, lurking bystander as she sits on the outside of the filmmaking crew looking in.
But no one is better than Goth as Maxine, the film’s protagonist. Maxine is a young actress trying to escape her past and make it big as a star, and Goth perfectly plays the type of dreamer that many people can deeply connect with.
This film wouldn’t be a slasher without gore, and X has some of the wildest on-screen kills imaginable. A weak slasher flick may show a little blood here and there, with a few screams tossed in. But in X, there is no holding back. The audience gets its fair share of on-screen terror, teetering on a point of excess. For every character that dies, you will witness, in detail, how they die. Prepare as you see fit.
Featured Image Courtesy of A24