X (2022)

May be an image of 4 people

I just don’t like Ti West’s horror films. They’re retreads of stuff we’ve seen, stylized for modern audiences. Still, I heard his latest X (2022) was a 70s slasher tribute combined with a porno shoot, and that was too tempting to pass up so I gave it a go. And holy moly, does it ever call back to films like Mother’s Day or Burnt Offerings or Eaten Alive (or most particularly The Texas Chainsaw Massacre). It’s like a DJ playing covers of songs you really enjoyed long ago; you’re reminded of the pleasure but without the ‘x factor’ (heh) that made it so fun to begin with.

It’s difficult to discuss a horror film without mentioning the villain(s), so SPOILERS ahead: the film crew are renting a cottage from an elderly couple living on a farm, and it is they who begin killing off the principals. This beggars belief, not only because these people are wizened and frail, but because West has made the strange decision to have these seniors played by younger actors with prosthetics. I guess this was supposed to cause the audience to reflect on something or other, but I just found it distracting and cheap looking.

So I think that’s it for Ti West and myself. There’s a germ of an interesting idea here about beauty, youth and aging, but it’s drowned out by mediocrity and the stink of easy plagiarism.

Addendum: I’ve just seen the trailer for the prequel to X (apparently shot at the same time), a period piece called Pearl, about the younger days of the lady with a mean streak. I guess at least this explains having Mia Goth play two roles. In fairness, she is the best thing about X, so a prequel starring her may be a good call.

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