I remember seeing the trailer when it first dropped and thinking, Wow, that looks pretty intense, but not sure if it’s something I would go out of my way to see.
Cut to March 2022. I have just reconnected with a good friend from high school who has become my movie buddy for the last year! Turns out she loves horror movies just like I do! Now we share our love for horror and go on girl dates to see pretty much every horror movie that we can get to. My friend expressed her excitement over the trailer when we first saw it. Funny enough, I feel like she’s more prudish or uptight than me. But she’s the one who was dying to see it! I decided ok, I can do this, but it looks like a literal X-rated movie right?
And so, we walk in, and she’s thoroughly excited to see this movie, and I just don’t know what to expect. X has a gritty ’70s feel right off the bat. We are introduced to Maxine, an up-and-coming porn star and her crew. This fun-loving group is off in their van, appropriately labeled “Plow Service,” to a remote location in Texas to shoot what they think will be the most lucrative porn movie ever, The Farmer’s Daughter.
There is a clear feeling that this movie is a huge homage to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The van ride is an obvious throwback to the van ride in TCM. The hot dusty feeling from riding around in Texas is a character all on its own. We quickly learn that Maxine will do anything to become a star because she’s driven to live a life she feels she deserves. Her boyfriend, who is almost twice her age, is pushing her to be all she can be at any cost and despite all odds.
The movie builds as it introduces us to the remote farmhouse where they will be filming the movie, unbeknownst to its owners. The filming of the sex scenes introduces some very interesting cinematic juxtapositions. The house is eerily similar to that house in TCM, where the long hallway to the front door and the inside of the house cannot possibly have anything good to offer inside. Also noticed: the constant buzzing of flies.
The themes X explores are intriguing for a horror movie. So is is the way they unfold. Old vs. Young. Live fast, die young. The young will live to have fun and die with no regrets. They have ambition and will stop at nothing to get what they want. They have no qualms about having multiple sex partners and even explain the difference between life and what they see as art. There is this feeling that what these mostly young people are doing is morally wrong. Who is the protagonist? Who is the antagonist? What is a life for if not living with no regrets? There is a constant presence of an evangelical pastor blaring away his sermons against evils at every corner.
This movie is not trying to reinvent the wheel. It’s just a good old-fashioned slasher flick that relies on the senses, especially the sounds, and on the uncertainty of what’s lurking around the corner, which, by now, every horror fan, or even general movie fan should expect, but feels surprisingly fresh in some way.
I won’t discuss the rest of the movie in case of spoilers as you are reading this, but I can tell you to stay to the very end, past the credits for a nice surprise which had me excited for at least a week until I went back to see it again with my husband. It was killing me not to be able to share any details with him and he was interested in seeing it when I divulged that there were many check marks on many boxes that would pique his interest. This is definitely a love-it-or-leave-it movie. There is only one scene that really bothered me. I am curious to see how many people hated it.