16 April 2024

Film Review – X (2022)

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre changed the horror genre forever but in 1974 and the reverberations of the change are still being felt to this very day. Its visceral, gritty, dark and disturbing tale of a group of young hitchhikers falling foul of the grotesque family of cannibals they encounter one Texas summer day has been frequently copied but rarely matched and never bettered. The recent Netflix sequel – sorry, requel – was not exactly a critical darling and any hopes of resuscitating the franchise may have already been distinguished but then, out of nowhere, A24 announced the long-awaited return of horror maestro Ti West with a new film that to many eagle-eyes on social media looked very similar to the 70s classic. Could this be the new Massacre? Maybe, but it’s much more than you may be expecting.

The fingerprints of Tobe Hooper’s classic are all over West’s sensational new film X: planting us immediately back in the 70s and in the deserts of Texas, it has the same sweaty, balmy sensations dripping off the screen, the humidity almost unbearable as our group of adult film entertainers pile into their own oven-like van on their way to what they hope is the first day of the rest of their lives. There’s fun to be had here, similarly to Paul Thomas Anderson‘s porn-industry-leaning Boogie Nights where those that populate the film are sunny, spunky individuals – with Snow, Henderson and Mescudi scoring strongest – and whose energy propels us forward in the opening act before West twists the screw into tender territory with some taut editing, ominous scoring and Eliot Rockett‘s immersive and sizzling cinematography.

In fact, as the film progresses, it has more in common with M. Night Shyamalan‘s Old as the film progresses than anything else, as West, still keeping his feet firmly planted in the horror world, explores growing old and the ticking clock we are all up against, trying desperately to outrun it or, in this case, cling on to days long past hoping to have just one more day in the sun. Literally. The jumps and gore come, of course, but there’s a rhyme and reason behind it and rarely in such a film do you feel an understanding and empathy for those doing the deeds.

If you didn’t know West‘s name before this you certainly won’t forget it after this one: his visceral, intriguing but ultimately frightening new horror is an ode to the past (in more ways than one) and another glimpse into the future which, alongside Ari Aster, Jennifer Kent, Rose Glass and more, has us extremely excited for the future of the genre.


Horror | USA, 2022 | 18 | Cinema | 18th March 2022 (UK) | Entertainment Films | Dir.Ti West | Mia Goth, Kid Cudi, Jenna Ortega, Brittany Snow, Owen Campbell, Martin Henderson, Stephen Ure,

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