X was one of my most anticipated features of 2022. And I am pleased to report that it lived up to my expectations in every way possible. Write/director Ti West has, once again, delivered a period piece that recaptures the style and aesthetic of a bygone era.
The film follows a group of aspiring filmmakers as they set out to break into the movie business by shooting an independent, X-rated feature. The group secures a boarding house where they plan to live and work during the production. The production gets underway without a hitch but when members of the cast and crew begin to disappear, the surviving party members find themselves in an all-out battle for survival.
X takes the audience on a journey back in time. The wardrobe, hairstyles, score, and cinematography are all very reminiscent of the late ‘70s when the film is set. In fact, this feels very much like a recently discovered relic from a bygone era. Ti West achieved the same feat when he recreated the early ‘80s with his masterfully suspenseful The House of the Devil. Here, the auteur director crafts an atmospheric period piece that exists at the intersection of arthouse and grindhouse. The flick is suspenseful, unpredictable, and visually striking, with grotesque effects work that will surely satiate your appetite for carnage.
In addition to appearing historically accurate, the film also features a fantastic cast. But the real star is Mia Goth, who steals the show in a dual role as aspiring adult film star Maxine and as Pearl, the elderly woman from whom the film crew are renting a boarding house. The two characters couldn’t be more different. And Goth brings each to life in a way that makes her completely unrecognizable (and not just because of the prosthetics) from one role to the other. Her mannerisms, voice, speech patterns, and posture are entirely different as Pearl, compared to Maxine.
Another impressive aspect of the picture is the way it takes a sex-positive approach to the subject matter. Our society has long stigmatized sex work. But the characters in X are not ashamed of the job they are doing. They embrace their sexuality and refuse to be shamed for flaunting what they have while they still have it.
As for the film’s home video release, it features an excellent mini-doc chronicling Ti West’s vision and approach to his work, as well as chronicling the cast’s experience working with the director. The featurette also delves into the casting process and sees several of the key players speaking to their relationship with their character and what attracted them to the project. West reveals some of the unorthodox questions he asked in the casting process and co-star Brittany Snow speaks to the film’s messaging about the aging process. My only complaint is that I wish the doc was longer. It clocks in at about eleven-minutes and just barely scratches the surface.
Other features include a time lapse look at the application of Goth’s Pearl makeup, as well as an extended cut of The Farmers Daughter, the porno film being lensed within the film.
If you haven’t checked out X yet, I would highly recommend doing so. The flick is now available on Blu-ray and DigitalHD.
Wicked Rating: 9/10