Monday, September 5, 2022


X is the first Ti West film that I didn’t completely dislike. I don’t think he’s a bad filmmaker and I don’t mean to sound so negative but every time I’m done watching one of his films it feels as if I've watched a "sketch" of something that isn’t finished. His work is just boring to me. X was at least fun and had a solid performance from Mia Goth who I am usually a fan of. I guess you can allow X to be just fun if you don’t want to over-analyze things but my brain has a hard time not doing that.

This is one of those projects where the director is clearly paying homage to an obvious specific classic (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) yet downplays it at the same time.

It's funny, because when I framed that up, I wasn't framing that being like, "We're gonna do a [Texas Chainsaw Massacre] - Ti West,

But like - what else would shots like this be in reference to??

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre / X

Or this??

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre / X

Instead of a group of young Texans in a van on a road trip through the backroads of the lone star state (TCM), we follow a group of Texans in a van on their way to make a porn in hopes of capitalizing on the home video market. There’s also a separate-yet-connected subplot that sets us up for the film’s soon to be released prequel; Pearl. For those looking for an elevator pitch type of a headline - X is essentially Boogie Nights meets The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

It’s not like Ti West doesn’t acknowledge The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and it’s influence on the horror genre but there’s this almost cat-like dodging of admitting a direct influence. West’s semi-regular cinematographer Elliot Rocket (who shot X) even worked with Tobe Hooper on Crocodile!! There’s even an incidental homage to that...

Crocodile / X

This has to a troll on some level, right?

To me, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is at the top of the great slasher movies of all time, and X obviously takes place in Texas and they're in a van and whatever - Ti West,

I don’t know why directors do this. Perhaps it’s a little inside game they play with themselves. Or maybe the references are so obvious that they’re sick & tired of answering the same obvious questions over & over on their tiring press runs.

Either way, Tobe Hooper’s DNA is all over this film. What’s interesting is that the visual references to TCM aren’t even so much in the gruesome parts but in the more tame moments…

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre / X

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre / X

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre / X

Although there are some more traditional jump-scare homages to TCM as well…

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre /

West admits he wanted to capture the essence of 1970s Texas in his latest film.

We we’re trying to get Texas right - Ti West, entertainment weekly

The problem with that is X was was shot in New Zealand (mostly due to Covid). Now…New Zealand does a surprisingly ok job of filling in for Texas but when you watch something like TCM (or any early Tobe Hooper film), you can almost smell it. With X, there is no smell. No grit or dirt or anything else that made low budget films from the 70s authentic. It’s just professional actors intentionally overacting with forced thick southern accents because they think they’re doing a Texas grind house homage. My issue with all of these modern-day grindhouse homages (which Ti West has done before with House Of The Devil & The Sacrament) is that these filmmakers have multi-million dollar budgets which, in my opinion, is almost anti-grindhouse. That doesn’t mean a movie with a nice budget can’t reference smaller/lower budget films, but when you’re Quentin Tarantino saying you’re just making a little grindhouse movie with big budget resources and the final product is something sleek-looking - I don’t fully buy it. And that’s kind of the case with X. I say kind of because, once again, this is the first Ti West film that I didn’t completely dislike (I’m actually looking forward to the prequel). It still has a fun tone and some gruesome kills with an appreciation for the art of movie-making. Maybe Pearl will be a step in an even better direction.


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