Ti West wrote, edited, and directed this horror picture that is genuinely filled with suspense and terror.
Aware of the giants like Tobe Hooper whose shoulders he now stands upon the setting will remind genre fans of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” while keeping the mystique of the violence to come at bay for awhile.
The prologue gives us the grim ending of this tale with the local Sheriff (James Gaylyn) entering a farmhouse to discover the mutilated remains of people we are about to meet. Then we are dialed back 24 hours to where this situation begins.
Mr. West has a master’s touch with expert film grammar not seen in a lot of horror films. He applies this knowledge so well it bolsters all the familiar genre tropes: a group of young people out for a good time, the morality tale, dark secrets kept, and if you have sex you must die a grim death.
Age Before Beauty
The film is set in 1979, a year before home video would transform the Adult Film industry.
The group of young people in this story are would-be pornographers who set out to make a better class of ‘dirty’ movie. They truly believe that a porn flick will make them rich and/or movie stars.
They are obsessed with their bodies. Their leader played deftly by Martin Henderson (Grey’s Anatomy) lies to the elderly couple about their intentions to stay on their private property.
The elderly couple are true believers in the word of God. Central to the core theme of age before beauty. Explicit in the message that young people cannot fully understand how their natural beauty will be stolen away by time. The film does a great job of pointing out the narcissism of would-be porn stars who flaunt their flesh and personify immorality.
The generation gap of the 70’s was a wide enough chasm for many unsuspecting souls to fall into without recovery. This idea is made flesh and bone in this film. Once aged you can only bear witness to the unbearable reminder of a life you could not have if you were born before the sexual revolution of the 60’s. The elderly couple is from a different time and place.
Throughout the story there is a small black and white TV present showing the local televangelist preaching against immorality and sex obsessed young people. A brilliant touch among many integrated into the picture.
Mia Goth as Maxine is determined to become a movie star. Porno for her is just a way to break into the business. The rest of their group features a real 1970’s archetypal black man named Jackson Hole played by rapper/producer Scott Mescudi. With a touch of George Romero his character is simple and foolishly brave. He is in the wrong place in a deep Southern setting.
Like Ridley Scott’s Alien there are nicknames too. Lorraine a.k.a. ‘Church Mouse’ plays the good girl who wants to be bad. She ends up in front of the camera. This spells her doom.
This is one of the best horror pictures so far in this fairly young year. The jump scare was great; the foreshadowing of the group’s inevitable demise is near perfection.
The dark secret will remain just that dear readers. Go see for yourselves this amazing horror picture. Stay for the end credits there is a reveal you do not want to miss!
‘X’ is Rated R for Gore, Nudity, and Language. Running Time: 1 Hour and 45 Minutes.
- Mia Goth as Maxine Minx / Pearl
- Jenna Ortega as Lorraine
- Martin Henderson as Wayne Gilroy
- Scott Mescudi as Jackson Hole
- Brittany Snow as Bobby-Lynne
- Owen Campbell as RJ Nichols
- Stephen Ure as Howard
- James Gaylyn as Sheriff Dentler
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