I am so out of the loop in regard to pop culture these days. And nothing illustrates that more than this movie because it came out in March, but I only just now heard of it tonight. Why is this odd? Because it’s a horror slasher movie that takes place in a porn film! How awesome is that?!?
Seriously, just from the premise, it sounds like this film was made specifically for me. But I only just heard of it tonight as I was scrolling my cable feed, and I was checking Showtime and saw this film listed with the description:
“A group of actors sets out to make an adult film in rural Texas under the noses of their reclusive hosts, but when the elderly couple catches their young guests in the act, the cast finds themselves in a desperate fight for their lives.”
So I set my schedule to watch it. And I just finished it.
Written and directed by Ti West, X takes place in 1979. Our lead cast is a six-person group of three couples who are traveling in a van to a small farm in Texas for the purpose of shooting a porn film. Martin Henderson plays Wayne, the movie producer, and Mia Goth is Maxine, his girlfriend who is also a porn actress. Brittany Snow and Kid Cudi (Scott Mescudi) are Bobby-Lynne and Jackson Hole, two veteran porn stars. Owen Campbell is RJ, the film director and Jenna Ortega is Lorraine his girlfriend who helps operate the camera.
Early on their personalities are established. Wayne is a typical cocky cowboy type, Bobby-Lynne and Jackson are sleazy porn stars who love to fuck, while Maxine is more of a “ho with a heart of gold.” RJ is a bit pretentious, with the lofty ambition of making a porn film that’s also high art, and Lorraine is presented as a bit shy, RJ calls her a prude, and initially isn’t comfortable with the subject matter of the film they’re making.
They arrive at the farm of an old married couple named Howard and Pearl, who Wayne has paid to rent their guest house to film their movie. Howard is a bit cantankerous when he meets the crew, and makes it clear that he doesn’t like the looks of them. It’s also clear that Wayne didn’t tell him why they’re renting the guest house, so the plan is to shoot the porn film without Howard’s knowledge. Stephen Ure plays Howard, and Mia Goth has double-duty playing Pearl. This is a fact that I didn’t even know until the end credits rolled. So kudos to both Goth for her acting ability and to the makeup department of this film.
The crew begins shooting their film, which is called The Farmer’s Daughter’s and has Jackson playing a man who arrives at a farm looking for help after his car has broken down nearby, and Bobby-Lynne and Lorraine play the two sisters who each take turns seducing him. Although initially appalled by the action, Maxine gets turned on enough that she asks to join the film. RJ objects but Wayne convinces him to let her shoot a scene with Jackson too.
I should be clear, this is a softcore film, so while we do see glimpses of the actresses’ breasts (or perhaps their stunt-doubles breasts), the various sex scenes are not too explicit, they’re shot in such to inspire your imagination more than your genitals.
I don’t want to spoil too much, but it turns out that Howard and Pearl are nuts and they start stalking and killing folks. What’s particularly clever about this film is the way it portrays Howard and Pearl as sympathetic figures, even as their murderous tendencies are revealed. There is an underlying theme here about youth, beauty, and sexuality, and how it feels to lose that as you get older. The last half of this film will have you on the edge of your seat with its suspenseful twists right up to the dramatic, and bloody conclusion.
The cast is excellent. Brittany Snow is the only one I was familiar with before in terms of acting, I knew of Kid Cudi as a rapper but this is the first thing I’ve ever seen him act in and he does a great job, but I was impressed with the rest as well. Again, I have to single out Mia Goth as the breakout star of the film. But I also loved Jenna Ortega’s performance as she portrayed Lorraine slowly breaking out of her shadow.
It’s Friday The 13th meets Boogie Nights, check it out now! Chacebook rating: FIVE STARS