X – REVIEW

Man, getting old sucks.

Granted, I’m only 26 so I’ve yet to feel the full effects that Father Time will have on my body and mind. Regardless, I at least can feel the early signs of what will happen down the road. Your body starts to hurt more, your eyesight starts to go, and perhaps the most disheartening, you begin to lose that youthful exuberance you once had in your early years. But old age isn’t without its positives however. Society asks less of you, you get a senior discount here and there, and you get to murder sex-having delinquents running around your farm. At least, that’s what I gather after watching this film. Maybe getting old isn’t so bad.

X is a throwback to the golden era of slasher films, taking a handful of promiscuous young people and having them slaughtered one by one by a ruthless killer. While its inspirations are apparent, the film still manages to feel fresh in the sub-genre of slashers and the state of modern horror movies as a whole. It’s gory, sexy and campy in all the right ways, yet it has enough of a thematical backbone to stand tall amongst its modern day contemporaries. It’s certainly one of the more straightforward horror films to fall under the A24 banner, yet it manages to be a hell of a lot of fun without the need of heavier themes.

Way back in the happening 70s, an armature adult film crew head out to a secluded Texas farm to shoot their magnum opus: The Farmer’s Daughter. The team is made up of sleazy director Wayne, stars Maxine Minx, Bobby-Lynne and Jackson Hole, wannabe-auteur cinematographer RJ and sheepish boom operator Lorraine. The ragtag group of filmmakers’ plans to shoot the greatest pornographic film of all time are soon complicated by the suspicious old couple who own the farm; Howard and Pearl. As night falls, the crew find themselves in for a horrifying time as bodily fluids begin to spill (and not the ones they were planning on).

The film certainly feels like it was yoinked out of the 70s when films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre were ushering a new breed of horror to the masses. A24 has made a name for themselves in the past decade by bringing elevated horror movies to the masses. These films have many of the elements we’ve come to expect from horror films, but add an extra layer of prestige to them by including thought-provoking themes that give you more to think about once the movie is over. Yet surprisingly X isn’t exactly like that. It’s not thoughtless by any means, but it is confident in its inspirations from the bloody slasher films of yesteryear. It’s deeper themes are there but you honesty don’t have to think about them too much, because there is still a lot of fun to be had with some good old fashioned sex and gore. Yet the film never goes completely lowbrow, nailing a good in-between that makes such an old fashioned film work in this day and age.

The cast falls into those familiar horror tropes you’d expect, like the quiet virgin and the…opposite of that. While not exactly original they are at least fun to follow even if they never really struck an emotional connection to me personally. The film at least has the hindsight to subvert some of these tropey elements and deliver some genuine surprises along the way. The older couple that ends up terrorizing the film crew are definitely the most interesting characters here. Instead of just making them one dimensional killers, the film does a pretty decent job at generating some sympathy from them. Their motives come from a place of hurt and longing, which can be felt throughout the whole film, even if their endgame isn’t entirely clear. I’m still not entirely sure what their goal was other than killing the young attractive whippersnappers out of spite. I think I was expecting something a little more given it is A24 here, but the film never really makes the effort to go too far beyond anything you’d expect. It makes it a fun time for sure, just not one I see standing the test of time against modern day horror films.

What I will definitely remember is the technicals at play here. The cinematography nails some pretty intense scenes, like one bird’s eye view of an alligator making its way towards a swimming woman or a spooky old lady spying on someone through the trees. The score only heightens this intensity, with some pretty interesting score pieces created by seasoned music producer Tyler Bates. I will be honest, the editing didn’t always work for me, as there are a lot of instances of quick, repetitive cuts that didn’t really do much for me. However there is one transition involving a lightbulb and a pitchfork that is just…whew man. Grade A horror filmmaking right there. And of course we can’t talk about a slasher without mentioning the gore! These aren’t very crazy or creative kills, but at least they’re stomach churning to watch thanks to some top-notch practical effect work. My favorite has to be that last, triumphant kill. God damn disgusting, but in a good way.

There’s a few thematic takeaways here, including the demonization of embracing sexuality, staunch conservative views, and the resentment towards the new generation, but who am I kidding, you’re probably watching for the boobs and blood. The film certainly delivers on that, managing to be scary without always relying on cheap tricks or cliches. It’s not exactly going to start conversations or lead us into a new direction of horror filmmaking, but I’m pretty happy with what I saw and can’t wait for more.

Oh yeah, the team shot an entire prequel film in secret right after wrapping on this one. If the trailer is anything to go by, we might be in for one of the best horror franchises of all time.

Rating

(out of a possible 5 pitchforks)

Sex on the Farm

If you’ve been around cocktails or the practice of mixology for a minute you’ve probably heard about the Sex on the Beach. It’s not 100% known exactly where this drink originated, but we at least know it’s been around since the 1980s and is a bit of a fusion between a Fuzzy Navel and a vodka-cranberry. It’s not the fanciest drink, being a mix of a few spirits and juices, but it’s nothing if not effective. I mean, the name implies what will happen to you if you have a few of them. What’s not to love?

While there’s no beaches in X, there is a dusty Texas farm, and you better believe there are some promiscuous individuals looking to fornicate on it. For this spin on a classic, I am embracing two things I know us southerners love: whiskey, and ice cold lemonade. This is a silky smooth, refreshingly boozy cocktail that is easy to drink and easy to get carried away with. The peach brandy gets a long nicely with the orange juice and the lemonade, while the whiskey is always present but never dominating the drink. If you’ve maybe been turned away from Sex on the Beaches because of how overtly sweet they are, you’ll be happy to find out that the swapping of the cranberry juice for the lemonade really brightens up the cocktail, making it even better for those hot summer days spent swimming with gators.

Ingredients

  • 2oz whiskey
  • 1/2oz peach schnapps
  • 1/2oz creme de cassis
  • 1.5oz orange juice
  • 1.5oz lemonade

Instructions

  1. Add ingredients to a shaker and shake with ice.
  2. Strain into tall glass over ice.

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