X-ception to the rule

X (18, 106 Minutes)

If you’ve spared the time to put yourself through the torture of reading some of my previous horror reviews, such as ‘Scream’ and ‘Halloween Kills’, you’ll have caught on by now that I’m not a fan of slasher films.

It’s not that I don’t think the sub-genre works, but so far nothing has come along to shake the fear factor. Zombie in a hockey mask? Silly. Demonic child abuser who haunts dreams? Oh please.

The only slasher successful in giving the chills has, thus far, been the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, reason being it’s something you could very well believe has happened, or perhaps may be taking place right this moment.

Going in to see Ti West’s nostalgia fest ‘X’, I wasn’t altogether sure what to expect.

Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised.

X is set amidst the Satanic Panic in 70’s Texas (same period as Chainsaw Massacre). A group of porn filmmakers, including Maxine (Mia Goth), newbie Lorraine (Jenna Ortega) and experienced star Bobby-Lynne (Brittany Snow) arrive at a secluded ranch with producer Wayne (Martin Henderson) and ‘Nam veteran Jackson (Scott Mescudi) to create what their director fondly describes as ‘arthouse erotica’.

Confident they can make a lot of money, they rent the backhouse of a redneck old-timer who insists they keep themselves to themselves, not wishing to disturb his wife, who is in fact watching them the whole time.

As the film explores the blurred lines between art and pornography, as well as the uncomfortable jealousy of youth and beauty, these young stunners come to realise all is not well and find themselves fighting for their lives.

Director West proves that independent cinema is at the head of the Horror frontier. If you want well-written scripts, move away from the blockbusters and seek out the lesser known films.

Whilst X may not be as good as his previous features House of the Devil and The Innkeepers, it’s certainly the sort of film to watch if you want to be shocked, alarmed and disgusted in parts.

Mia Goth is an underrated actress. She plays two roles here – but take a guess who when you see it. In years to come, there’s little doubt she will be remembered as one of the great faces of our generation for horror.

Narrative wise, one could argue that within the first ten minutes it’s blatantly obvious where the story is going, and what’s going to happen. What it makes up for in shock, it lacks in plot twists, but nonetheless it’s deeply unsettling in places and the buildup of tension is nail bitingly good.

This is a great self-contained film, though there’s word on the grapevine that a companion piece is being made. Who knows how that will work out.

If you’re afraid of blood, go see The Nan Movie.

RATING: 8/10

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