Would it be hokey to call X x-cellent? What if I call it sex-cellent? Can any review of a throwback grindhouse homage to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre telling the story of a group of would-be pornographers murdered in their rental home by the home’s sexually-and-otherwise frustrated owners be hokey?
Ti West is an artist. That has always been clear. House of the Devil is one of Trav’s favorites, and we both had a great time with The Innkeepers. We were immediately sold on X from the moment we heard it was marking West’s return to filmmaking.
This movie moves briskly for a Ti West venture without losing any of the character development or atmosphere for which he has become known. The movie truly becomes special though, in my opinion, with the introduction of Pearl. She wastes no time in telling Maxine to embrace her youth, beauty, freedom, and vitality. The point is driven home in a beautiful montage set to Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide.
What makes X such a haunting movie are the very real human paranoias at play: aging, the loss of control of our bodies, worrying that we have missed our big opportunities in life, what sexual freedom means for an individual and what it means for those with whom an individual engages.
This film, in a genre known for sexual exploitation, rapid-fires a nuanced discussion of sexuality at its audience while fully embracing every trope it can. It then dedicates equitable and graphic screentime to the older couple’s sex scene. Without that equitable focus and balance, the theme of the film would have definitely veered off-course.
I enjoyed X so thoroughly that I almost became distraught at the Pearl trailer at the end, but I remain hopefully optimistic that the prequel will live up to its predecessor.