SXSW Review | Ti West’s X is a Horror Gift that Keeps Giving

Director: Ti West
Written by: Ti West
Starring: Mia Goth, Jenna Ortega, Martin Henderson, Brittany Snow, Scott Mescudi (Kid Cudi), and Owen Campbell
Cinematographer: Eliot Rockett

The recreation of 1970s America in horror movies has felt like a difficult task in filmmaking. Since the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, many films set during that time felt like overdone caricatures or severely underwhelming. Fast forward to the 2022 South by Southwest (SXSW) film festival, and here comes director Ti West’s horror porn flick X.

Yes! You read that correctly. The A24 story follows a young film crew whose sights for fame and stardom know no bounds. Set in rural Texas, the filmmakers rent a secluded farmhouse from a reclusive elderly couple. But when they take an interest in the crew’s adult activities, the couple’s leering interest turns violent, leading to a night of gory mayhem.

In 105 minutes, X manages to soar beyond its script limitations to a part comedy, part horror flick that never taps into unfamiliar territory. Yet West’s creative spotlight on the 1970s porn industry surpasses expectations, keeping its foot on the gas in entertainment and mayhem. This is what sets it apart from other horror features with similar big-picture concepts. At its core, it emphasizes the “experience-gone-wrong” trope with flair. But writer-director Ti West takes the overused idea and gives it a unique makeover with ease.

Courtesy of A24

It should come as no surprise how a movie centered around making a porno flick in the middle of a farm could be humorous and horrifying at the same time. But X never falls into the trap of cheesy one-liners and torture porn. Instead, the film sets itself up as a mysterious, anxiety-inducing, and clever feat that basks itself with intricate details and charm. It’s an odd combination, to say the least; but it works for the benefit of the picture as it pays homage to Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

West’s direction also keeps this standard script afloat by avoiding overcorrections needed to take viewers back to the late 1970s. His creative mind glides through his lens, where audiences will be treated to sharp decisions that enhance every scene. His use of red tones and colors to highlight danger and impeding bloody doom is brilliant. These simple yet effective elements that are embedded throughout make for a thrilling watch.

With that comes exceptional performances from the entire cast. Leading the pack is scene-stealer Brittany Snow, who plays the alluring and confident Bobby-Lynne. Snow’s chemistry with Scott Mescudi’s (aka Kid Cudi) Jackson Hole is one for the ages. Mia Goth as the “it” girl with the x-factor is right on the money. Her charm and star power are evident, as she gives an effortlessly seductive performance. And as always, Jenna Ortega (Lorraine) will have your eyes glued to her whenever she makes an appearance. Watching her character go from a naïve and innocent one to a confident and lively woman is everything I needed and more.

After it’s all said and done, X is like a horror gift full of surprises that keep on giving. Whatever you think you may know about this movie, you have no idea. With a perfect cast under Ti West’s stellar direction, this is the 2022 A24 movie you need to see. Luckily for fans of horror, it’s in theaters March 18, 2022. Strap in your seatbelts. You’re in for a wild and non-stop entertaining ride.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Check out the trailer for A24’s X – in theaters March 18th