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MOVIES: X - Review

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Ti West's slasher horror, backed by A24 - will familiar to any who have watched enough of A24's ilk in the past. You've got the usual hallmarks of the production company and whilst each of their films are usually the director's own vision, you get a feeling here that X is - like the director character in the movie, trying to be a bit too clever, constructing a meta horror element where a film crew trying to make an adult movie arrive on a remote farmland in the middle of nowhere, and haven't told the elderly occupants of the fam what they're there to do - only to find out that the residents have a bit of an extra kick to them.

The film feels somewhat lazy, one dimensional and entirely predictable. The tired flashforward at the start of the movie before you cut back to 24 hours earlier only emphasises this - you know exactly where X is going to end up before it starts and it has an uphill battle of convincing you otherwise that something interesting is going to happen, which it just doesn't do. The slasher elements of this are poor for a slasher film and there's just not enough bite to it despite all the shock of its subject matter - look too closely and the shock is surface level - the gore is safe; the kills are predictable, and the surface message of the film appears to be "naked old people are the true cause of horror" - which, is something that's nothing new to the genre and it doesn't really have anything to say beyond that. There's no depth afforded to its lead characters to go beyond what it sets out to accomplish - a homage to a different age of horror.

The movie feels self-congratulatory smug like it's trying to have its cake and eat it too. The final one-liner feels underserved - which I won't spoil here - like it was trying to pat itself on the back for what it had accomplished, when the end result feels anything but. The need to try and tell a slasher story yet not understand what makes a slasher story work in the first place kind of sets X back for all its love letter for the genre - if it had been more interested in telling its own story then maybe we would have had a more memorable movie - but this feels entirely manufactured, building suspense before unleashing the violence.

Maybe had I cared more about the characters or the situation they were in - plenty make stupid decisions even by slasher movie standards - or believed the peril that they were facing was anything more than groan-worthy - I would have had a better time - but X - with its cast of talented actors like Mia Goth and Jenna Ortega, deserved a much better treatment than what they got here. This premise isn't new to movies with both of them having appeared regularly in the genre in the past - and while they are modern icons of the horror genre and it's great to see them in the same movie together - the film doesn't even earn that.

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