Ti West brings to the screen a classic horror film that takes time to slowly build the tension as we wait for the blood to flow.
In the usual horror/slaughter plot it’s so called bad girls that are the victims of the mysterious killer. Here the entire staff must be considered bad because they are all involved in the making of an X rated film. Martin Henderson as Wayne is the leader of the film troop, it’s 1979 and as he states video tape is going to boom the X rent film market, because folks will be able to watch them in the privacy of their home.
Director West sets the atmosphere of the time using the correct cars and prominently a black and white TV show with a preacher who is selling fire and brimstone. His preaching is set in contrast to the erotic film making going on in the rented house.
West’s pacing is flawless, he smoothly makes us wait for the danger in a pond to take hold and he feeds us information about the two guns in the plot which hold until near the end of the film.
The murders are creative and caused in the most part by one character (not the one we suspect initially). There is a mentioning of a ‘McGuffin’ from Hitchcock’s book. Here it is the active erotic scenes that are being filmed, they are not completely necessary but cover the undercurrent which will be revealed in the Prequel. In X it all falls together with blood and slaughter during the evening after the filming of the day.
When the plot suddenly explodes the strong direction pays off, along with quality photography as we see beauty yet frightening scenes throughout.
West also allows for comedy both in the every day action and the murder scenes. Early on the crew comes across an accident in which a cow has been killed and smashed up on the highway, their van wheels drive through the slushy bloody remains as they pass by the accident scene. That gives us an early view what we expect to see later.
The photography and editing particularly between quiescent and violent scenes demands attention as they quickly flash on the screen.
X is entertaining particularly for those who enjoy this kind of film. Remain after the credits to see a trailer of the prequel which was filmed at the same time as X.