“Alright, that’s enough jabbering. I reckon it’s about high time we cut to the chase and give the people what they want to see.”Wayne
Ti West’s horror flick set in 1979 is more than just a throwback — he expertly recreates the visual identity of early slashers, using it is as a tonal palette even as he subverts many of their clichés. For example, the premise of a group of young filmmakers travelling to a remote town to make an adult movie provides a justification for the requisite titillation whilst also undermining the traditional rules linking promiscuity and survival in exploitation flicks. There is no mystery to solve in the killer’s identity since there are so few people on the isolated property and, although X raises the topic of youth and aging, it has little to say beyond the jealousy that gulf invokes. Typically, self-aware horror films swiftly descend into parody but West avoids this, choosing to maintain the enjoyably sinister atmosphere by delivering on gory scares he sets up. The closest analogue is Robert Rodriguez’s modernised yet reverant approach to grindhouse movies in Planet Terror. Fans of the genre will enjoy the period detail — particularly in distinct visual style of the film-within-a-film — but it’s unlikely to appeal to those without an interest in either slashers or filmmaking (and ideally both).