X (2022)

Rated 18
Spoiler Free

Comedian Bill Hicks had a joke about the frustration of softcore porn, “it’s porn, with all the pornogrphy cut out of it!”. X is about a porn film being made, with no actual porn, though Mia Goth does spend plenty of the film bare chested, which I believe she is contractually obliged to do in every film she’s in except Everest, because she plays a teenager in that and Larry Clarke didn’t direct it. Of the back of a fair amount of hype, I wasn’t watching X for nudity, I was there for the good stuff. Gore.

Was X gon’ give it to me?

X writer/ director Ti West has established horror form, but I’d argue not quite the status it’s often implied his films carry. That said, I still haven’t seen The House of the Devil which is supposed to be excellent.

The filming of said late night adult feature is shepherded off to a remote location in Texas by its unscrupulous, walking #MeToo moment producer to save a few quid, and the softcore titillation eventually climaxes in claret. By eventually, I do mean eventually.  To continue the Bill Hicks softcore reference, “now there is a frustrating hour” as one waits for the warm, sticky liquid bursting from throbbing veins like, well, you know.

Boasting some Devil’s Rejects vibes, X has a great look to it- I very much like the way it’s shot and edited; grimy but in a stylish way. In the narrative conflict there’s an almost an air of sadness, a wistfulness at wasting away unseen and undesired; this drives the anger and violence, which is why anyone is watching X. It’s a neat twist on the motivations of murderers in horror films such as these.

There is plenty to like about X, though the porn angle is salacious and while it fits with the metaphor and contrasts Ti West is making, I don’t think I could be accused of being a snob for saying it isn’t exactly a profound posturing on sexuality and ageing. While there are some snappy happy endings (kills), X does these well but in no way excels.

Bedsit it?

After some foreplay, but no hairy, bobbing man-ass X becomes a fun, solid horror with plenty to like but perhaps not as much about it as people have made out. With a prequel being finished up, a film I’ll definitely watch, X is worth the effort. 6/10

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