That's right folks, I'm back with another A24 horror film! You really can't blame me at this point because they've churned out an insurmountable amount of movies this year. It wasn't too long ago that they were a relatively small production company and barely made a handful of films a year. Now they've sold enough of their $35 logo hats (guilty!) to bankroll whatever script comes up for the foreseeable future.
While this is probably a less than apt business analysis it remains true that the scripts in the films they produce are otherworldly. X being no exception.
Written and directed by Ti West, X focuses on a group of people in 1979 making an adult film. The director, Wayne (Martin Henderson) is firm in his belief that this film is going to be smash hit with the help of his artsy sound and camera crew RJ (Owen Campbell) and Lorraine (Jenna Ortega). Finding an ad for a rural Texas farm Wayne takes his crew and stars Maxine (Mia Goth), Bobby-Lynne (Brittany Snow), and Jackson (Scott Mescudi aka Kid Cudi) on the road to achieve the miss-en-scène he aspires to have.
At this farm they meet the elderly couple Howard (Stephen Ure) and Pearl (Mia Goth) that owns the farm and assure the couple they won't even know they're in the other barn. That guarantee is quickly disproven when RJ, upset that his girlfriend Lorraine took part in a scene of the film, tries to drive off but is met with a knife in his neck courtesy of Pearl. Slowly but surely the members of the cast and crew are picked off one by one as the tandem of Howard and Pearl are searching for Maxine, who Pearl believes is special.
I'm being intentionally vague here as I'm not trying to spoil the entire film for you!
While at is core X is a slasher film, it presents a few deeper layers. The biggest element of that being Ti West's exquisite vision as a writer and a director. Not only does he rely on tension and mystery to set up some of the horror elements, but he also weaves in these intricate details of Pearl and Maxine's life that result in some great twists in every act. A part of that is supported by Mia Goth being incredible in dual roles as Pearl and Maxine but the other part is downright great writing/directing. There's a number of subtle movements and lines from both Pearl and Maxine that push the themes of desire and aging, a key one being Pearl watching Maxine perform from outside the window. But the biggest moment for these two characters might be when Maxine is in the house talking with Pearl as she talks about her jealousy of Maxine's age and looks, then caps it off by making a sexual advance on her.
This is a pivotal moment in the film, highlighting the deep desires of Pearl and her attraction to Maxine which jumpstart the killings in the film. Because for Pearl, she would kill to fulfill her desires. We get a little glimpse of just how far she would go when Lorraine is trapped in the basement by Howard and there's a brief shot of a dead naked man tied up, presumably captured as a way for Pearl to satisfy her urges.
A perfect addition to West's writing and Goth's performances is the style he injects into the film. He imposes a grainy old camera film feel to it making it reminiscent of Texas Chainsaw Massacre which immediately delivers a feeling of looming demise and isolation. On top of that there's a number of god's eye shots that attach us to characters more than we expected to be. There's a fantastic example of Maxine swimming in the water and the god's eye reveals a crocodile swimming up in the distance, resulting in a great edge-of-your-seat reaction. Another one of my favorites is the view of RJ in the shower, isolated and claustrophobic, sobbing after Lorraine did her scene in the film. It gives a great view into one of the supporting characters and shows that the desire throughout the film differs for every person involved.
I love what West did with this film and I'm excited to check out his prequel Pearl to dive deeper into what was going on with her and Howard! Not to mention there's even a third film he's doing that is the sequel to X titled MaXXXine which is just amazing.
A24 has often been aligned with small indie films and not franchise or blockbuster efforts however here's Ti West delivering their first trilogy!
Tis the season! Halloween has just passed and the scary movies are still ripe (no matter what Mariah Carey says)! So why not grab some couch, a beer, and enjoy a good scare or 5? Well the best way to truly enjoy those jump scares or lingering feelings of dismay is with a truly amazing brew. My choice for this film was the fitting Festivus Pale Ale by Black Raven Brewing.
While it's not quite Festivus time and as one of those people that gets upset when I hear Christmas music before Thanksgiving I must apologize for my preemptive Festivus festivities. However, the Black Raven Brewing limited release beer is not exactly one to pass up on and is well worth breaking a few rules of timing. The Festivus Pale Ale is a spiced beer that dances around on your palette and continues delivering a variety of flavors as it goes down. It has a nice solid amber/copper color to it and the aroma is something to relish. The flavor profile is a wonderful base of citrus, malt, hops, and pine but the accents that come out are a beautiful mix of coriander, caramel, ginger, and candied fruits.
I prescribe to the belief that too many cooks in the kitchen can spoil the broth but there are the perfect amount of cooks in the Festivus flavor profile. All of them play off eachother and give a great drinking experience that warms as you drink it!
This is an ideal beer to drink next to a fire and watching something nice, like watching an elderly couple slash through the cast and crew of an adult film. Sounds pretty cozy, no?
Festivus Pale Ale Black Raven Brewing Pale Ale - American | 7.3% ABV @blackravenbrewing