Let’s make a porno.
X is the new film from Ti West, who I usually find quite reliable. Given the amazing reviews of this film, I figured I was in for a treat. Instead, I watched a derivative and pointless exercise that is oddly mean-spirited.
We follow Maxine (Mia Goth) and her friends as they plan to rent out an old building in remote Texas to shoot a porno. Their leader Wayne (Martin Henderson) has an arrangement with the owner but doesn’t tell the owners what they are actually doing. These leads old man Howard (Stephen Ure) and his wife Pearl (also played by Mia Goth) to dislike the teens.
Pearl is drawn to the younger folks and laments that her sexual needs are no longer fulfilled. The film abandons the interesting thread of aging and sexuality in favor of a schlocky slasher that we’ve all seen before.
There are a few things I did not like about this film. The largest being is that this is a disingenuous examination of aging. Both Howard and Pearl are made up to be as disgusting as possible. The makeup choices are meant to repulse the viewer. While there may be a thread of humanity in their presentation through the script, it dissipates in their physical appearance. They’re meant to disgust us. Further, their desire and willingness for extreme violence justifies the groups’ disdain at them.
The message of this movie is that once someone is no longer screwable they are no longer important. Sure, the film acknowledges this will happen to everyone, but the point is so murky it falls flat. This reminds me of The Visit, where the true horror was that old people are gross. Both films make the elderly folks murderers to justify our disdain. However, what disgusts the characters first is not a threat of violence, but rather that old people are simply gross.
The other major issue of the film is that nothing seems original. We have direct replicas of shots from Texas Chainsaw Massacre and other classics. The 70s vibe of the film comes largely on the backs of previously built narratives. I found nothing original here.
Yes, some of the shots are wonderful. We do have some much-needed moments of humor, but these come too infrequently to save the film. I thought the entire thing was boring, derivative, and just pointless.
I know I am in the minority here and this is one of the most popular horror films this year. It does look sharp, and we do have some interesting kills, but I want and expect more from West. This one just missed the mark for me. I saw nothing more than paper thin characters set up to die in paper thin ways.