Following an eclectic group of aspiring filmmakers who are trying to change pornographic cinema, West explores the exploitation genres—horror and pornography, which are often looked at as “lowbrow entertainment”—and how the spirit of independent filmmaking is still alive and well.
X is not only a good time, but it beautifully captures the fear of growing old and the complications of sexual desires, only finding gore when our desires can’t be satisfied. The isolated landscape of rural Texas creates tension as two generations clash against each other, battling for their freedom of expression.
In A24’s newsletter, Blood and Guts: A Note from Ti West, West reveals he wrote X "for fun, never expecting it to actually get made. It was a way for me to ruminate on some feelings I had about getting older, making films, and my lifelong love of horror cinema.”
Jenna Ortega as Lorraine in 'X'Credit: A24
It has been about 10 years since West made a horror film. He explains that it took him this long to make another horror film because of how strange and traumatic the endeavor of filmmaking is, and how it takes a toll on his mental health as well as being a financial risk. From absurd hours of work to unruly weather conditions, the chances of creating his perfect vision are next to impossible.
With the odds looking as bleak as they are, we wonder why we choose filmmaking as our career.
For West, it's about “transforming a story from your imagination all the way into a completed film [that] is an experience unlike anything else in the world.”
In X, the little details are what mattered most to the West. The costume design and set decoration define a character and a place so specifically that the audience can feel like this place actually exists. How blood gushes and guts splattered across the frame is meticulously crafted by West to make the audience recoil in horror.
West’s knack for zooming, cutting, manipulating point of view, and layering sinister sounds creates an anticipating doom that draws the viewers in before forcing them to sink into the back of their seats. The tension is cut with humor before the horror consumes the screen, trapping the audience to sit with the moment of sin and skin.
Ti West on the set of 'X'Credit: A24
Nothing about the film feels cheap. Instead, it rewards its audience for indulging in that classic art of 1970s cinema while still feeling satisfied by our taste for modern mainstream films that challenge the audience’s expectations. West writes that “independently-produced exploitation films catered unapologetically to titillating the subversive taste of the masses.”
X is a homage to 70s slashers while being something completely new and fresh. The contrast between characters, the sexual tension, and the desire to feel and be the person you want to be is the driving force behind this exploitation film. This is a movie for filmmakers, for those who want to explore the bizarre editing that could motivate a story, and for those who want to make independent cinema.
You can catch X in theaters now!
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