This year I saw the trailer for X and Stephen King tweeting about how much he loved this A24 film, so I knew there was little chance of me being disappointed. I will say not the scariest or most haunting of the A24 horror catalogue, but probably the most violent I’ve viewed. Memorably so.
This is a slasher, and I would argue, comedy film set in 1979 and follows a group of adult filmmakers and actors during the 24 hours before the police find the aftermath of a gorefest.
I can see why Stephen King liked this movie. I’m sure he appreciated the story though I don’t think it’s something he would write himself — instead, it’s the characters and their dynamics that I could see him writing. The characters are sleazy, but they have layers that you can appreciate. They’re all just trying to live their best lives, and two-thirds of them have fallen into unconventional relationships that work for them, though not necessarily with admirable motivations, yet still caring just with a hollow at its centre. It’s very nuanced. And those relationship dynamics become a conflict for one-third of the group outside of this.
The acting from everyone in this film was fantastic and authentic, and the costuming and makeup not only added to that but was a performance on its own. Mia Goth specifically reminded me heavily of Linda Lovelace, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that were done on purpose.
Interestingly, Mia Goth not only plays the final girl in this film, but I found out after the fact that she also plays the slasher villain in the movie. I honestly could not tell when I was watching, and I’m glad I got to experience that by going into this film unknown to that fact. Showing these characters interact with each other even though the same person plays them would have involved a lot of clever thinking to pull off. For this alone, the film is worth rewatching to figure out how they did it.
Also, this film is set in Texas but was shot in New Zealand and was very believable. However, that’s probably because the story takes place on this one farm, yet they did a lot with one plot of land and such a small cast.
Thematically the film is about intergenerational envy. The slasher villain is an older woman, the wife of the man who owns the farm, and she has wandering eyes. But I won’t talk about the dreadful things she gets up to in this film.
So I understood that one of her motivations was because her husband couldn’t satisfy her needs due to his fear of dying of a heart attack, which caused her to be self-conscious about her age. But she also has precise desires like wanting only brunettes with “something special” and absolute disdain for blondes. There was always something more about Pearl (the older woman) that implied that we, the audience, don’t get the complete picture. Not that I minded that much because thematically, it served a purpose anyway, and because of that, it satisfyingly stands alone as a film. I’m just bringing this up because I found out that Ti West secretly worked with Mia Goth on a prequel named Pearl about Pearl starring Mia Goth once more that was immediately shot after wrapping up on X. Hopefully, that film will fill in some blanks later. I’ll also be curious to see it, especially considering I was not particularly fond of the last prequel I saw and reviewed.