Film Review: X (2022)

We open to the view of an old farmhouse below overcast skies… the aspect ratio of the shot set at a thin box of 5:4. In the distance, we see a police cruiser slowly approaching the farm. As it does, the camera slowly creeps forward, widening the aspect ratio as we realize the black bars on each side of the shot were actually the sides of the barn door, through which the camera glides. 

As the cruiser comes to a stop, the moving camera reveals two more police cruisers that were previously obscured. A sheriff steps out of the car and begins walking to the farmhouse, passing by multiple bloodied corpses as he does. Walking upstairs, the sheriff follows the sound of a preacher playing over a television.… He watches the program for a few moments before another officer interrupts him: “Sheriff, you oughta come take a look at this.”

X follows a group of actors as they seek to shoot an adult film on a secluded farm in the heart of Texas in the late 70’s. Unfortunately for them, their hosts, the elderly farm-owner couple, are not so hot about the group’s plans. It doesn’t take a film scholar to guess where this is headed; what ensues is a gorefest that reads as a genuine love letter to slasher movies and greasy exploitation horror. With a plot mimicking Friday the 13th and a setting pulled straight from the Texas Chainsaw franchise, X marks its spot as a must-watch homage for any and all slasher fans. 

The characters we follow into their almost certain demise are all unique from one another; each stands out as interesting and distinctive from one another. Mia Goth is the clear standout here; performing in a double-role, Goth portrays the on-the-rise actress Maxine Minx and the one of the creepy landowners, Pearl (as whom she is unrecognizable). Another notable performance is from Jenna Ortega as the quiet ‘church mouse’ of the group, who nevertheless delivers one of the most blood-curdling screams in any recent slasher flick. With her well-executed roles in movies like X and the fifth Scream movie from earlier this year, Ortega seems to be well on her way to becoming the next big scream queen. 

X works as both an homage to the sleazy horror pictures it emulates and as a wildly entertaining thrill ride in its own right. It’s a rollercoaster from start to finish; you see some of the kills coming from a mile away, and some come right out of left field, but all of them are gritty and riveting — just what you want from a slasher. Ultimately, it even ends up being a better Texas Chainsaw movie than this year’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre… and there aren’t even any chainsaws.

Overall rating: 8/10

Published by Jeremy Bader

Aspiring writer, film and music lover, drummer.

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