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  • The Bearden of Knowledge


Dir. Ti West (2022)

When a group of filmmakers decide to shoot an adult film at a farmhouse in rural Texas, the owners of the home get a tad jealous.

Sometimes, a movie comes along that both encapsulates the genre we all know and love and, at the same time, flips it on its head! So, come along with us as we review Ti West's X.

Personally, I haven't been as enamored by a film since 2013's Evil Dead. And, as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) is my favorite film of all time, Ti West has done what I always thought was impossible and recreated that same vibe. I've said it before, but what makes TCM special is when you watch it, it's filmed in such a way that your brain tricks you into thinking you've just seen something that shouldn't be filmed, even though there's literally NO gore. Even the Michael Bay (Rev's note: Marcus Nispel directed, Brad is talking about the Bay-owned production company Platinum Dunes) remake of TCM that most folks seem to enjoy never nailed that vibe. So, instead, they opted for a more gory and visceral reimagining. Again... Awesome! I'll never knock those films! But what they didn't pull off was the "feeling" of the OG. It's something that has been tried hundreds of times in the horror genre but never fully paid off. Until now....

And it's beautiful and subtle, what Ti has brought us. Yes, we have similarities like the time period, the traveling across Texas in a van... Hell, even running over the cow entrails was a direct homage to the armadillo in TCM. But, unlike Tobe, Ti did it with a million dollar budget and with stars we all know from something or other. The entire premise of the film feels like naughty, forbidden fruit, as the plot revolves around six people wanting to make a pornographic film, right at the height of porno's popularity. (Good thing that didn't stick around long. It could've turned into a billion dollar industry.)

The story is intriguing, the cinematography is perfect, the acting is on point, there's really nothing to complain about here. But it goes beyond competent filmmaking into fucking genius territory. The writing is borderline brilliant! The televangelist that comes through the TV, the way it starts with the police arriving on a grisly murder scene we don't see as an audience until later, the "Checkov's gun" rule, the alligator... Speaking of... Even the foreshadowing of all of our characters deaths. (Ever notice the gator pulling on the swimsuit when Bobby- Lynne exits the topless bar? Or when Wayne tells RJ "People's eyes are gonna pop out of their skulls!") Its things you don't notice upon an intitial viewing. Things Ti has, again, done subtlety, that lends itself into further viewings. If it sounds like I'm a gushing fanboy, it's because I AM! This was my top film of 2022. I FUCKING LOVE THIS MOVIE!

To further add to the brilliance, we got Mia Goth in not one, but two phenomenal parts as both our heroine AND our killer. And what an imperfect heroine. It's not often we see our "final girl" as a self-absorbed coke-snorting POS that we ACTUALLY root for!

And it really speaks to both Goth and West's talents that during the downtime of Covid they worked together to actually write a trilogy and continue this story. We all know Pearl came out the same year, and while I also love Pearl in its own way, I love this SO much more. And, I'll say that before this and Pearl, Mia Goth wasn't really on my radar. She has shown up in bit parts in the Suspiria remake and Marrowbone, but had never really shown a breakout performance. Well, holy fuck, was I wrong! I mention Pearl reviewing this because it's kinda two parts to the same story, and she is, well, something else! A true powerhouse of an actress! She sells this dual role with gusto. As her mirror affirmations confirm, "She's a star! She's a fuckin sex symbol!" As she tells Wayne, "I deserve nice things. I have cosmopolitan taste! I want the whole world to know my name. Like Lynda Carter and shit!"

The fact that our protagonists are also making a film within a film also lends a lot of levity with Bobby-Lynne giving us such filmmaking tips as, "If you tilt the camera up from the nozzle, it'll look like he's using his cock." It ls really quite glorious when the film they're making is interspersed with scenes of actual violence that mirror the events. The overhead shot of Maxine skinny-dipping in the pond with an alligator hot on her heels is white knuckle tension. You scream at your TV "SWIM FASTER!" This film is literally great shot after great shot! In my humble opinion, this shouldn't be missed by anyone. I truly think that in twenty years, this will be a film that's a "must watch" for horror fans. And I can't think of another film that better tells the story of fame, and the lengths that a lot of people will go to to achieve it. You can catch this flick now on Netflix or Paramount+, and if you haven't seen it, I highly suggest you do.

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