This interview contains some spoilers for X.
Ti West’s X, out in theaters now, unleashes a full-throttle, savage throwback slasher with surprising humor (my review).
Shortly after the film’s SXSW premiere, Bloody Disgusting chatted with West about his covert love letter to filmmaking and the planned trilogy. As West explains in the second part of our interview, his adoration for filmmaking once again resulted in a commitment to practical effects, leading to some memorably gnarly kills in the A24 slasher.
One of the most surprising involves a killer alligator.
The alligator first shows up in an intense scene with Maxine (Mia Goth) taking a leisure swim, unaware the massive predator is stalking her. It’s foreshadowing, of course, for later. Bringing that alligator to life wasn’t easy.
West explained, “We had three different alligators. We had half of an alligator from the middle to the head; a puppeteered, mostly foam-type thing. Then we had a fiberglass one that was the bottom half of the alligator, its back half, that could be on two pulleys and be towed. It had a tail that would go on a mechanism. We had the tail by itself, and we may have had one other head. I can’t remember. But it was a hassle. It was like the stories from Jaws. The same stories.”
When asked about his approach to designing the kills, West answered, “It was a mixture of craft and narrative. The movie’s narrative sometimes required an amusingly hypocritical moment, or there’s an irony to how things are playing out for somebody. The first kill, for instance, was meant to say, ‘Okay, you are now entering the movie that you originally came for, whether you like it or not.’ Hopefully, you’re a little bit reluctant to go there. I wanted to make a statement with that. I also wanted to let you know that this character you’d been thinking one thing about is now a whole different element in the movie. From a craft standpoint, the things that happen and the stylistic changes throughout that sequence deal with diegetic sound, non-diegetic sound, lighting changes, and things like that. It was meant to be like, ‘Whoa, here we go.’”
Like the filmmaker did with ’80s-set The House of the Devil, X captures the era without falling into nostalgia-induced pastiche.
“I think that you want to put the audience in the environment, and people have a nostalgia for that time period. I have a nostalgia for that period. But there’s a difference between having, let’s say, a nostalgia for a time period and a nostalgia for media of the time period. When things are nostalgic of media, they tend to have a more spoofy, too in-your-face pastiche.
“I remember when we made House of the Devil, I was always saying, ‘This is brown and tan furniture eighties, not video killed the radio star eighties.’ It’s the stuff you have in the seventies that you haven’t bought new stuff yet because that’s what it was like for me. When I think of my house growing up, we didn’t have whatever the newest commercial thing. If I were nostalgic for media, I’d focus on whatever the brand-new fashions of that time would be. We were always a few years behind because I was not up on the times. So, setting this movie in the seventies, it’s the same thing. It’s trying to show you those things that you remember from your life, not necessarily what you remember from movies and commercials and things like that.”
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