Porn stars get the shaft and a shanking in the slasher film X, which serves up a titillating if surprisingly unfulfilling horror experience from Ti West.
Easily West’s most accessible film, X features a likable cast of characters and the oddest villain pairing for a slasher flick—a deranged and sexually repressed elderly couple. More importantly, with this film West largely abandons the understated, pinch-your-butt-cheeks-together restrained approach he’s taken with his past efforts (read: pretty fucking boring) and delivers a relatively fast-paced, entertaining, and gory thriller. It’s a fun little film.
Mia Goth, Brittany Snow, Jenna Ortega, Kid Cudi and Martin Henderson are among the pieces of flesh at risk here, the cast and crew of an amateur porn called The Farmer’s Daughters. There are hot scenes and scenes where bodies are being flayed end to end; West has fun toying with the conventions of a slasher, not at all changing the core formula but bringing to life some memorable moments.
There’s nothing worse in the horror genre than a generic horror film, the kind of movie where it appears no one behind the camera really cares to do anything unique, shocking, or clever. With X, West’s talents elevate common horror elements at times, especially with the creation of a few inspired and deliciously wicked moments that make you grin or snicker.
But X still feels a little generic. With porn at the center of your story, you’d think West would be a little more penetrative with such subject matter. More importantly, he struggles to maintain intensity; X is a rare movie where I’d argue it would benefit from being longer. The final act needed a good 15 minutes more to flesh out the suspense and ratchet things up to the next level. As is, it’s still just a slasher about some young people who rented the wrong house.
X has a lot to like but not much to love, but then again, porn isn’t about love, right? Several characters get shanked, but the audience gets shafted—not out of a good movie, but out of something even better that remains frustratingly just out of reach.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.