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The villains of modern day horrors come in all different shapes and sizes; from the big and bulky Victor Crowley of Hatchet to the masked, short and more petite women of The Strangers, the killers can be pretty unpredictable. But enter this years newest horror flick from A24 - simply titled "X" - which hit theaters this weekend, and the modern day slasher is one that you simply wouldn't expect. The film opened in the US on the 18th and was written, directed, and produced by Ti West - and he has truly managed to put together one hell of an experience for theater goers who are looking for that sick new flick that comes with the weird signature flair that A24 films usually come with. I've always been a sucker for horrors that take place over the course of a single day or night, and X is the latest in the genre that recounts the most fucked up 24 hours the main character - Maxine Minx (played by Mia Goth) - will hopefully experience in her life. X has been gaining a lot of praise the last few days for its homage to the great slashers of the 70s and 80s, and so this one we definitely wanted to check out for ourselves and see if the statement holds true. And I'll just say this: the movie hardly disappoints, and even in its seemingly slow buildup to the action you're waiting anxiously for, there's plenty of smutty backstory reminiscent of those slashers from our childhood to keep you fully engaged until the red stuff starts to flow. X definitely presents a unique and adventurous deep dive into our own ideas on aging, mortality, and the crippling realities of our decaying bodies, and it's bizarre yet welcomed religious cult-like influence just adds a little extra awesome to the picture. I think X is already destined to be a fan favorite for the year, and I think a big part of that has to be attributed to Goth's dual appearance as not only the aspiring porno actress but the real haunting energy brought to the film: the elderly Pearl.

It's 1979 and the home video market is just about to take off, and what do the perverted want more than to be able to indulge in their sexual desires in the privacy of their own homes?! Maxine is a young and attractive stripper who's decided to join her producer and boyfriend Wayne (Martin Henderson) and fellow porno newbies Bobby-Lynne (Brittany Snow) and Jackson (Scott Mescudi) as they drive off to a rural farmland to shoot their adult flick with director RJ (Owen Campbell) and his girlfriend/sound girl Lorraine (Jenna Ortega). Wayne has arrangements with an elderly gentleman named Howard (Stephen Ure) who owns a little love shack out on his property beside his house that he allows Wayne and the group to rent out for the night. He doesn't know about the debauchery that's about to take place just a minute walk from his front door, but he insists that the group just be mindful of his wife Pearl who sometimes wanders the property. As things get underway and the video camera gets rolling, there's a few incidents that take place between members of the group and the elderly woman - mostly bizarre appearances and awkward interactions where Pearl comments on the girls beauty and even goes as far as touching Maxine - that set the tone that something just seems a little off. But she's old and lost her mind a little, right? So the group keep their eye on the prize and get to filming their filthy video - and that's when Pearl really begins to amp up her sexual lust and desires, and things begin to spiral out of control. The elderly couple find out what's going on in the little shack out back, and punishment must be delivered for the sinners who dare defile their home. A night of smut becomes a night of hell as the group try to survive the night, and two of the most unlikely killers in horror. Can the group escape the grip of the lustful and envious Pearl and her husband?! Find out in... X!

Obviously, a lot of the slashers we grew up with have their fair share of tits and ass in them, but rarely does the plot for the film rely so heavily on actual adult filmmaking - and have the actual scenes to back it up - but that is definitely one thing to know going into X. The story is strictly sex driven and does not hold back from setting up its basis; it's actually a part of that whole slow buildup I had mentioned earlier. The movie takes its time introducing you to the backstory of the gang and how they got to this point in their young lives, and it doesn't hide the promiscuity that is taking place on Howard's property - the same promiscuity that not only triggers his wife's dread of her own aging body and decline but how she was once so young, beautiful, and arguably most important to her: desired. That triggers turns into bloodlust as she simply cannot let the group leave, and her desire for Maxine's young and desired body leads to her disdain for her. So like I said, the film is entirely driven on sex, more-so than a lot of the slashers of the past, so just something to keep in mind. That being said, Pearl's desire to be wanted again and her admiration/jealousy of Maxine seems to be the driving force for the brutality she sheds that night, and once the blood gets flowing, the action audiences will be waiting for really picks up. That is when the film turns from weird to worse (for the group) and better (for the audience). I'm both a fan of weird and gory, so the films first half - setting up the strange interactions - and its second half - the shocking slayings - are equally awesome, and I definitely couldn't wait to see just how the slasher part of the film was going to unfold. Surprisingly, West managed to take two harmless-looking elderly folks and turn them into some seriously sinister old timers, delivering some pretty devastating blows (luckily, not that kind of blows, given the theme) to the gang as they attempt to escape the farmland. There's definitely no shortage of pouring blood and brutal slayings way out in the countryside where they are. If you come to X to find some great kills, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by what the old couple manage to pull off; maybe not anything too unpredictable, but sinister nonetheless.

The last few months, a few new big name slasher films have been presented to the horror genre - Halloween Kills, Scream, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre to name a few - and honestly, audiences have been really kinda all over the place about all of them. X may not be the most revolutionary horror flick we've going to see these next few years, but I think it's definitely a pretty twisted little movie that delivers on the slasher theme, no doubt. The movie's theme feels a little darker than you may originally take away leaving the the theater, and I feel like once I got home it really started to kinda sink in. Pearl's justifiable desire to feel sexually wanted - mixed with her dreadful and depressing feelings on getting old and her body crumbling before her husbands eyes - makes the film sadder than it feels on the surface, knowing that many of us are going to face that same fate one day. But don't get me wrong, if you're just here for some horny young adult killings, you're in good hands too, and I think you'll still have something to take away from X. I definitely think some people will find more enjoyment out of this sex filled slasher from West and A24 than they would from the three aforementioned Hollywood horrors. Definitely worth both our time and money - check it out!


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