Ti West is best known for the genuinely scary, slow burners The Innkeepers and The House Of The Devil, but his first feature-length film was The Roost. That film harkens back to the Horror Host era and is deliberately B-movie in nature. The writer-director’s metatextual horror-comedy X is also an intentional throwback to the likes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but through a parable horror angle (the term “elevated horror” is dumb).
In 1979 Texas, a group of aspiring filmmakers drives to a farmhouse to shoot their film. First, there’s the producer, Wayne (Martin Henderson), and his actress girlfriend, Maxine Minx (Mia Goth), who wants to be famous. Catty actress Bobby-Lynne (Brittany Snow) and actor Jackson Hole (Scott Mescudi, aka Kid Cudi) round out the cast. Director RJ (Owen Campbell) is also the editor and director of photography, while his girlfriend, Lorraine (Jenna Ortega), handles the sound equipment.
“…the elderly owners of the farm…freak out the proud purveyors of smut…”
They drove many hours outside of Houston because they’re producing a porno titled The Farmer’s Daughter for the burgeoning home video market. However, the elderly owners of the farm — veteran Howard (Stephen Ure) and his wife Pearl (Mia Goth) — freak out the proud purveyors of smut, who are trying not to let on what their true purpose is. Pearl is wistful for her younger years when she was beautiful, and she and Howard screwed all over the place. After discovering that the out-of-towners are making a porno, Pearl ensures the body count rises.
X might throw gorehounds for a loop as it slowly but surely piles on the absurdity. See, West ambitiously takes on genre fans’ love for the violence of slashers and mixes it with the iconography of parable horror. By doing this, the filmmaker is able to examine what makes both kinds of scary tales tick. Why is the image of a naked old woman the height of terror? How come there’s such a visceral reaction to the grimy atmosphere of the horror B-movies of the era? Why is there a cathartic release when viewing on-screen carnage and slayings?
"…might throw gorehounds for a loop as it slowly but surely piles on the absurdity."