SXSW REVIEW — “X”
More like Y
X is written and directed by Ti West and stars Mia Goth, Jenna Ortega, Martin Henderson, Brittany Snow, Owen Campbell, Stephen Ure, and Kid Cudi. It tells the story of the cast and crew of a pornographic film who gather on an elderly couple’s rural Texas property but find themselves threatened by a killer. With all the pulp and style of a classic slasher, you might think this was made in the 70s, but you’d be wrong! X is a loving homage to classic stripped-down slashers of the past made with the energy of today. Although it is a bit underwhelming, X has a lot to love.
Ti West is a director I admittedly had not heard of, but he’s built quite a name for himself. The strongest element of this film might be its execution. West directs this with a playful hand, delivering one perfectly crafted, albeit generic horror set-pieces after another. He does such a great job here that I am somewhat disappointed he doesn’t push it further. X really leans into the pulp, blood and guts of the past, but doesn’t seem to want to jump right in. For a slasher that touts itself as “one f*cked up horror picture”, I found myself a little let down by that promise. While X does have a few great moments of slasher horror, it never really delivers anything I haven’t seen before. I wouldn’t even call this the most disturbing or violent horror film of the year. It’s like West brings you up into the airplane and the whole time tells you you’re gonna jump out and parachute down, but you never leave the plane.
Ti West did assemble quite the cast here and all do excellent. Mia Goth and Jenna Ortega are certified scream queens at this point. Goth has always been a heavy hitter but Ortega really shines in an ironic star is born moment. Kid Cudi does a great job as well. With a cast this strong, a perfect setup, and incredibly skilled direction, I am just so baffled by how little this film really does. It’s odd to be so hard on a film that I really love a lot about. There are a handful of moments I’d call pitch-perfect and the cast do a spectacular job. It’s just those moments are next to some incredibly par moments. The highs are so high that they make the middles look like lows. Ti West is such a talented director, I think he needs to push himself forward. I know he’s got a better version of this film in him.
In short, while X wastes a bit of its potential, there’s a lot to love here. 4/5