Written and Directed by Ti West
Starring Mia Goth, Jenna Ortega, Martin Henderson, Brittany Snow, Owen Campbell, Stephen Ure, Kid Cudi (Scott Mescudi)

Ti West has been in the thick of horror for over a decade now, working as a director and actor in some good films and a few that were not great. The first time this viewer caught his work was in the disappointing The Innkeepers, Then he salvaged himself with two short segments in V/H/S and The ABC’s of Death as well as a nice performance in the near classic You’re Next. This film, another in a lengthening line of fine horror from A24, is a nicely filmed piece of historical horror.

The year is 1979 and Maxine Minx (Goth) is on the verge of making the most of her talent. She and her fiance/producer Wayne (Henderson) are on their way to a farm in rural Texas where they rented a guesthouse in the farm of Howard and Pearl (Ure and Goth, in bad makeup). They have brought along a crew of actors (Snow, Cudi), a director (Campbell) and sound person (Ortega) to make a pornographic movie, trying to take advantage of the burgeoning home video market.

Once they arrive, they get down to business and have a successful day of shooting. Something is wrong on the farm, though.

The tension is the best part about X. We know something is coming, and we are pretty sure what is coming. There are several scenes carefully laid out. By now, West is skilled enough that he doesn’t need to hammer home every potential nail, and this works to the benefit of the viewer. This makes the first two acts work very well.

The tension in the last act is broken when the viewer gets a good look at Howard and Pearl. There are still good moments here and there, but it’s quite obvious that Pearl is Goth with layers of rubber applied. How this plays out is interesting, and West smartly does not try to explain everything. Stick around for the post credits if you want to see a preview of the origin story to come.

(***1/2 out of *****)

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