Porn and bloodshed combine as Ti West makes his long awaited return to the horror genre with a gritty grindhouse slasher that is a sleazy throwback to a gory era that ends up being his greatest film….
Ignoring his awful Cabin Fever 2 sequel (think of it as the same experience Fincher had with his ALIEN attempt), when Ti West burst onto the horror genre way back in 2009 with a 70’s style shocker about a young girl who takes on a babysitting job with a horrific results, he immediately became a name all fans looked out for.
Since then he has dabbled with the supernatural in the slow burn The Innkeepers and made us spend some time with a crazy cult in The Sacrament, but it has always felt that the horror world has waited for that one movie that would be his calling card to the big time, a box office smash that would really cement his name as thee guy we all can’t wait to sit down and either be scared or thrilled with.
That moment may have came with the arrival of X, a 70’s style grindhouse style sleaze fest which offers porn, naked ladies and plenty of gore, all in a place where you expect Leatherface himself to be the next door neighbour. West hasn’t just created a perfect throwback to a time when horror felt dirty, but has also delivered a film for a modern age, while ripping up the current rule book. that only sequels to slashers of old can deliver at the box-office. Somehow X manages to offer its viewer a feeling of nostalgia, while bringing something new to the table. Honestly its a hard thing to do, but this film delivers to give us all a rollicking good time.
Like all great slasher movies, the plot of X is simple enough. Wayne (Martin Henderson – channelling Matthew McConaughey, a twisted Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Next Generation Easter Egg perhaps?) wants to join the booming Porn Film trade and hires indie auteur RJ (Owen Campbell) to direct his movie, even though RJ wants to make something more than just a porn click. Alongside RJ is his mike holding girlfriend Lorraine (Jenna Ortega) who at first feels out of place when the sex begins to roll on film, with the two stars being former marine Jackson (Scott Mescudi, AKA Kid Cudi) and his girlfriend, blonde bombshell Bobby-Lynne (Brittany Snow).
With this being set in the late 70’s where DEEP THROAT was all the rage, the aptly titled THE FARMERS DAUGHTER will need to be filmed, well, in a farm, and the crew along with Wayne’s girlfriend Maxine (Mia Goth – who is a revelation), stumble on the perfect place in the middle of nowhere. Cue the sign of impending doom and foreboding bloodshed from the experienced viewer.
Anyone expecting a bogeyman in the shape of a Jason or a power tool being used are in for shock as West while offering up the usual blueprint for this kind of terror, is too clever enough to venture down the same old trodden path. Instead we settle on the owners of the farm, Howard (Stephen Ure) and Pearl (Goth again, this time unrecognisable under all the make up) an elderly couple who don’t take too kindly to what is being filmed on their property.
Its the imagery of West that enhances the watch as at first we only see Pearl at a distance, her striking white hair offering the same sense of fear as a guy wearing a painted white William Shatner mask, but as the film progresses, the intentions of the duo become clear. A beautifully filmed sequence involving a dancing figure, blood and a car light adds the to the clamour that when this director is on form, no one can match him and add a gentle swim while a crocodile silently stalks you, then X offers everything you need from a West film and more, with even a simple scene of a lemonade offering, adding tension to what is all set to be unleashed.
It all comes down to power of sex and why its such a strong act as it consumes feelings of excitement, guilt and sadness. In lesser hands X could have easily been a normal slasher film with loads of sexual scenes, but here its used in such a clever and heart breaking way as it states quite rightly in “why can’t the youth of today enjoy and express themselves?” But “what happens if you still have those feelings but find your body doesn’t match your soul which is still full of youthfulness?”
By its written textbook, a horror film doesn’t work if you start to sympathise with the bogeyman holding the knife, but much of X surprises you in ways you will not expect, its the most perfect experience of a grindhouse flick, an offering of horror and porn that isn’t just West’s greatest film, but a Boogie Nights meets Texas Chainsaw Massacre masterpiece that much like Pearl’s feelings for Howard, will be lusted after for many, many years to come….