X (2022)

Written and Directed by Ti West
A24/Little Lamb/Mad Solar Productions

I had no intention of watching this picture … until I saw that it (simultaneously) spawned a pre/sequel (and an upcoming coda), and then I grew intrigued. A pseudo-hommage delivering more period-specific frisson à la director Ti West’s earlier House of the Devil, albeit with more T ‘n’ A and a few more gory killings, the setup was what initially failed to impress me: a film crew goes to a remote farm to shoot a porno and slaughter ensues. But once the action proper began, I found myself wondering about the psychology underlying the operation – most prominently, the conceit that director R.J. envisions making an aesthetic statement. I would argue that by 1979 – when this picture is set – the “porno chic” era had lapsed, and therefore imagined a poignancy underpinning the attempt. Poignancy reigns, of course, once we find out more about Pearl (the sequel’s namesake). Ultimately, however – ironically – this largely successful venture is not as “artistic” as one might imagine Mr. West believes it to be.

Why Did I Watch This Movie?

I already addressed that!

Should You Watch This Movie?

As implied above, its auteur really wants to showcase his carefully curated inspirations.

Highlight and Low Point

Themes of female agency or the lack thereof are explored, alongside some dismissal of what could be termed Middle Class Values. Speaking of which, I’m no America Firster, but I am somewhat disturbed that this production took place entirely in New Zealand. Economically speaking, that seems troublesome to me as a patron and erstwhile progenitor of The Arts. Producer Wayne predicts the home-video boom, which seems a little prescient … and adds another soupçon of pathos to his director’s plight (and perhaps further shading to his painful naïveté).

Rating From Outer Space: B