What to Watch Verdict
X by name, extreme by nature. Ti West's horror comeback doesn't pull any punches and it's full of sex, violence and plenty of great scares.
Slasher fans will love the grisly kills and tension building
It follows a lot of tropes yet still feels fresh and unpredictable
It's genuinely quite funny at times
The graphic content might not be everyone's cup of tea
Feels quite far fetched in places
X is Ti West's first film since 2016's In a Valley of Violence, and he's made quite the impression as he takes on the much-loved slasher genre in front of a modern audience. The film was directed, written, produced, and edited by West, so it's clear he's put his heart and soul into the project.
The film follows aspiring pornographic film actress Maxine Minx (Mia Goth) as she embarks on a road trip with her producer boyfriend Wayne (Martin Henderson), fellow actors Bobby Lynne (Brittany Snow) and Jackson Hole (Kid Cudi), director RJ (Owen Campbell) and RJ's girlfriend Lorraine (Jenna Ortega) to shoot an adult movie.
Our group has headed to rural Texas to make their movie, and horror fans already know this is a bad idea as we've had several on-screen killing sprees happen in this state, including the disappointing 2022 Netflix film Texas Chainsaw Massacre. So we're off to a questionable start from the get-go.
It's clear they've chosen this location for privacy reasons so they can shoot their film in peace, hoping to dominate the home video market, but their peace is soon shattered by the hosts of the guest house, an elderly couple named Howard (Stephen Ure) and Pearl (also Mia Goth).
By the time the sun goes down on the first day, the film wastes no time into springing to life, immediately putting the lives of the group in danger. Pearl soon reveals herself to be a strange individual, and her eerie presence is played brilliantly by Mia Goth, who offsets this in other scenes when she plays ambitious wild child Maxine Minx.
X doesn't skimp on the gore and there are plenty of graphic kills that are sure to satisfy fans of the genre as they're a spectacle, making excellent use of special effects. We're definitely not dealing with clean, precise kills in this film, and it's very much a blood-soaked mess in classic slasher style. This teamed with the darkly humorous moments puts it in a similar vein to popular franchise Scream, with X shaping up to be another fun entry into the genre.
Slashers are often famous for having one weapon in particular; there's the titular chainsaw in Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the knife in Scream, and Jason's machete in Friday the 13th, but the fun thing about X is that it relies on a whole host of weapons and dangers, including an alligator, to torment its victims. Yes, you read that right!
As well as this, there are some edge-of-your-seat suspenseful moments too, as Pearl is genuinely quite creepy and every time she's on-screen you're dreading what she's about to do next. Those wanting some satisfying scares will get those too, as there are plenty of unpredictable moments throughout the course of the film.
Just when you think X is going in one direction, it often subverts what we're used to, meaning that it feels like a fresh entry into the genre despite also leaning into some of the key themes we know and love.
Some fans may be put off by the gratuitous scenes in X, but those seeking a far-fetched, blood-soaked film that's also pretty awkward at times will likely have a blast, especially watching this all unfold on the big screen.
It's a welcome return for Ti West, and with a prequel called Pearl already in the works, could A24's slasher hit become a new franchise for the genre? We'll have to wait and see!
X is currently playing in cinemas worldwide.
Lucy joined the WhatToWatch.com team in 2021, where she writes series guides for must-watch programmes, reviews and the latest TV news. Originally from Northumberland, she graduated from Oxford Brookes University with a degree in Film Studies and moved to London to begin a career writing about entertainment.
She is a Rotten Tomatoes approved film critic and has a huge passion for cinema. She especially loves horror, thriller and anything crime-related. Her favourite TV programmes include Inside No 9, American Horror Story, Stranger Things and Black Mirror but she is also partial to a quiz show or a bit of Say Yes to the Dress!