Ti West’s “X” is a film that revels in its own meta-commentary and serves as a homage to the filmmaking process. This horror picture takes viewers on an icky, gory ride while cleverly experimenting with structure and tone. However, despite its technical ingenuity and genre enthusiasm, “X” falls short of offering a distinct perspective or delving deeper into its potential themes.
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A Story Within a Story
The film centers around a group of porno filmmakers led by RJ and his girlfriend Lorraine. Halfway through their production, Lorraine expresses her desire to participate in the sex scenes, leading to a discussion about the possibility of introducing new protagonists, drawing a parallel to Hitchcock’s “Psycho.” Little do they know that they are about to become part of a horror story themselves.
Love Letter to Filmmaking
“X” is primarily a love letter to the filmmaking process, celebrating the plucky, hard-fought joys of low-budget productions. The film crew’s resourcefulness and enthusiasm for their craft shine through, reminiscent of movies like “Ed Wood” and “Dolemite is My Name.” Director Ti West captures the atmosphere of the era, with attention to historical details and a deep knowledge of the genre’s conventions.
A Shift into Horror
As the story progresses, “X” takes a sharp turn into full-fledged horror territory. The excitement and devotion of the film’s director become evident as the characters face a rising body count. West skillfully creates an eerie setting, emphasizing the sweaty, swampy heat of the coastal Texas locale and paying homage to the aesthetic hallmarks of the genre.
While “X” provides visceral pleasures and embraces the thrill of independent filmmaking, it fails to explore its potential for a deeper storyline or thematic exploration. There are hints at more intriguing avenues, such as the commodification of youth and beauty, but these ideas are left unexplored. Additionally, characters like Howard and Pearl feel like missed opportunities, falling into genre stereotypes rather than being developed into meaningful figures.
A Fun Trifle that Leaves Room for More
“X” is undeniably fun, offering viewers an entertaining and nostalgic experience. However, it also leaves a sense of unfulfilled potential. Ti West’s technical and artistic ingenuity is admirable, but the film lacks the context and depth that made its inspirations, such as “Texas Chain Saw Massacre” and “Psycho,” so iconic. It remains a surface-level joyride, ultimately feeling like a trifle that could have been more.
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Ti West’s “X” is a self-referential, meta-horror film that celebrates the art of filmmaking while delivering its fair share of gore and scares. It effectively captures the spirit of low-budget productions and pays homage to the genre’s history.
However, the film falls short of exploring deeper themes and missed opportunities for more compelling storytelling. “X” is a fun experience for horror enthusiasts and filmmakers, but it leaves a lingering feeling that it could have been a more substantial and thought-provoking work.