Ti West’s Seventies slasher homage comes with a lot of praise X freshly tested with an FSK 16 around the corner. But doesn’t that have something to do with the origins? Well, the teen massacre on a porn set is not without violence. Even more so with new impulses. Which can be interpreted both positively and negatively. We reveal more about this in our review.
OT: X (USA/CAN 2022)
Texas in 1979; A group of young filmmakers make their way to a remote farm in the middle of nowhere to finally shoot the film that will give them their breakthrough – a porno. But when the reclusive farm owners get on the trail of their guests’ activities, the creative trip turns into a fight to the death…
Ti West is no longer unknown in horror fan circles. However, the Delaware-born director has still been denied his big breakthrough to this day. But the filmmaker never necessarily aimed for mainstream success. In the case of “The Inkeepers”, “The House of the Devil” and “The Sacrament” there was no regular cinema release in this country. Perhaps with his 1970s terror film homage “X”, West will finally be a little more visible to the general public. Although his latest work once again appeals less to the preferences of those who helped films like “Conjuring”, “Insidious” or the “It” remake to great success. “X” is not a big-budget glossy, but a small, dirty genre project that has earned laurels at numerous festivals and is now trying to make its triumphant advance in United Kingdom. Unfortunately, “X” can’t quite live up to the hype it built up in advance. The film follows too much of a schematic and therefore all too familiar teen slasher path. However, as a homage to the role models of the corresponding horror decade that always fits the tone and form, “X” works extremely well.
The sheriff discovers a bloodbath on the remote farm.
It’s almost a little ironic that “X” takes its title from the infamous X rating in the USA, which is now primarily given to pornographic content. Nevertheless, the film is released in this country for ages 16 and up following a new review. This means that the title will certainly reach a wider audience, but the film industry’s voluntary self-regulation must have had a remarkably good day on the day of its second rating. “X” is not a violent porn that psychologically harasses the audience, but always has a relaxed, smug tone “We want to shock you but actually also have fun” tone in front of him. It still gets juicy when heads are crushed and throats are cut in a bloodthirsty manner. So on a visual level you should already be toughened up. On the other hand, it seems almost contradictory that “X” is in some ways suitable as an entry-level horror film. Not only because it represents a perfect reflection of a horror decade that had a massive impact on the genre at the end of the 1970s (an illustration of cinematic history, so to speak), but is equipped with a rhythm and acting that is adapted to today’s viewing habits. But also because the moments of sometimes very, very strong tension are quickly broken up again – and primarily with excessively depicted violence. “X” is also far from a jump scare fest and draws its suspense primarily from the atmosphere itself.
“’X’ is not a violent porn that psychologically harasses the audience, but always has a relaxed, smug tone of voice that says, ‘We want to shock you but actually have fun too’. It’ll still be juicy.”
Ti West, with his stylish equipment, image layout and lighting, and his cameraman Eliot Rockett (photographed “The House of the Devil” for West, among others) recreate these in a congenial way, so that the gritty, color-desaturated imagery is still the clumsiest method of creating a nostalgic feeling to conjure up. West, who is also responsible for the script, repeatedly undermines the expectations of his audience. Starting with the suggestion that his film was shot in 4:3 format, through to the choice of his antagonists, who appear completely different than one would initially expect. That of Mia Goth (“A Cure for Wellness”) in a mask barely recognizable as herself and Stephen Ure (“Lord of the Rings”) The personified pensioner couple acts completely differently than you are used to from hillbilly killers in teen slashers; Namely, according to his age and therefore much more structured than simply following the “I run after my victims” pattern. And through their extensive introduction, the porn stars and starlets also have the opportunity to grow on the audience’s hearts and thus become more than cannon fodder, whose demise can be accepted either with a shrug of the shoulders or even with joy.
Porn star Bobby-Lynne (Brittany Snow) suspects that something is not right on the farm…
Now one might consider it consistent that Ti West doesn’t vary the motifs of his role models (“Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is mentioned here as a representative example) much. Ultimately, his film is primarily an homage rather than a reinterpretation. If you want to see the latter, the latest remake of The Chainsaw Massacre, released exclusively on Netflix, is a current example of how to do it not might! But even a recreation like “X” sometimes thrives on new impulses. If you want to be generous, explain the subtext surrounding the value of eternal youth, which emerges particularly in the second half, as such. Apart from that, “X” follows the typical slasher count-down rhyme principle with varied kills, final girl and so on. It’s not original, but it’s well crafted – and it almost brings a breath of fresh air into the genre, which has recently produced less and less original sequel films and has at best broken the roots of its existence in a poetic way. And so there will be quite a few people who will particularly like this purist approach to a bow to the genre. Although without irony or a wink, it is at least freed from the serious tonality of its role models, which was influenced by the atrocities of the Vietnam War. The hype thing is just not good for (horror) cinema. The danger that the audience’s expectations will be shattered because of this is simply too high…
“But even a recreation like ‘X’ sometimes thrives on new impulses. If you want to be generous, explain the subtext surrounding the value of eternal youth, which emerges particularly in the second half, as such.”
Conclusion: With “X”, Ti West succeeds in creating an atmospheric, stylish homage to the terror cinema of the late 1970s, which is almost completely devoid of any new impulses and is therefore either a bit disappointing or is so strong precisely because of its lack of irony and reinterpretation of the genre rules.
“X” can be seen in USA cinemas from May 19, 2022.