The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Cinema] - X | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Cinema] - X

x review
The cast and crew of a porn film run into trouble on a farm in Texas.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Ti West

Starring: Mia Goth, Jenna Ortega, Martin Henderson, Brittany Snow, Scott Mescudi, Owen Campbell, Stephen Ure

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Some sources like to cite Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre as the first slasher movie. I've always felt that while the slasher genre has more obvious roots in the Italian gialli and German Krimis of the 1960s, Hooper's film belongs to a much older American tradition, one that stretches back to 1930s pre-code films like The Most Dangerous Game and The Island of Lost Souls. I like to call these films "hostile host horrors" as they feature protagonists who often wash up at an out of the way locale and find themselves ultimately menaced by those they intruded on. Many of the early cinematic examples of this form were adapted from Victorian era stories penned by writers contending with the ills of colonialism. It's perhaps no surprise that hostile host horrors saw a major revival during the Vietnam War era, with rural America standing in for the jungles of South East Asia, unwelcoming rednecks substituted for the Viet Cong. Given how the US civil war was the first of many times Americans decided to liberate a people only to find their presence unwelcome, it makes sense that rural America, i.e. the South, would serve as the prime locale for such films.

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In 2022, the division between urban and rural America is so culturally wide that such metaphors are no longer necessary today. Director Ti West may be recalling the hostile host horrors of the 1970s with his new film X, but it's very much window dressing for an examination of one of today's curious cultural cold wars, that being fought by the generations.


Until quite recently, nobody defined themselves by their generation. Now it's not uncommon to see young people wield the labels "boomer" and "millennial" as an insult against their elders. While young people have become more liberal than their predecessors in some aspects, one area where they've regressed into conservatism is how repulsed they seem to be by the idea that anyone over the age of 40 might still enjoy sex.

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West cleverly examines this curious dynamic by pitting the cast and crew of a 1979 porn flick against an elderly Texan couple. We expect a clash between the liberal minded porn gang and the conservative geriatric farm folks, but what we get is more complicated. Producer Wayne (Martin Henderson, channeling Matthew McConaughey) strikes a deal with an ancient farmer, Howard (a heavily made up Stephen Ure), to film his latest epic on his farm, unbeknownst to the old codger. When the banging begins, it stirs the loins of Howard's wife (Mia Goth in rubbery make-up), who sets her sights on ambitious porn starlet Maxine (Goth sans make-up).


There's a delicious irony in how sexually liberated Maxine markets herself, while finding the idea of a 90-year-old woman having lustful feelings truly repellant. It's an old cliché that slasher villains like to target young people for having sex, but here the trouble begins because a young person wasn't as liberated as they believed themselves to be.

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Thus sets off a final act in which the farmer's wife begins to butcher our young protagonists. West doesn’t find the most original means of offing his cast, liberally borrowing from the '70s movies he's aping here. But there's a scuzziness to his film that genuinely recalls such films, right down to the sometimes creaky pacing.

Its commentary on inter-generational warfare aside, X doesn't have any political agenda to bludgeon the viewer with, and it's refreshing to see an American horror filmmaker happy to make an old-fashioned movie in which a bunch of good looking people are butchered by rednecks. With nods to Texas Chainsaw and Hooper's follow-up Eaten Alive, transitions borrowed from Easy Rider and liberal use of a zoom lens, West has created a nostalgic tribute to a classic era of screen sleaze. It's certainly a better Texas Chainsaw movie than any of the recent entries in that long-suffering franchise.

X
 is in UK/ROI cinemas now.



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