X (2022)

Director: Ti West

Running Time: 106 Minutes

Certification: 18

Starring: Mia Goth, Jenna Ortega, Martin Henderson, Scott Mescudi, Brittany Snow, Owen Campbell, Stephen Ure, James Gaylyn

Texas, 1979. A group of young filmmakers set out to make an adult film at a secluded farmhouse, something which catches the interest of the elderly hosts. Returning to horror films for the first-time in nearly as decade, writer/director Ti West crafts a fascinating tribute to 1970s slashers from the opening visual gag about aspect ratios.

Considering how maligned both pornographic and horror films can be, it's welcoming that West approaches both genres respectfully. A sex-positive attitude is adopted as those partaking are never judged for their profession, allowing thoughtful conversations about their work to occur during quieter moments. While the scares could've been more plentiful, the tension is well crafted and peaks with a wide shot looking down on the water.

There's also great fun to be had, particularly when Martin Henderson delivers some hilarious lines. A terrific cast is assembled which includes an unnerving Stephen Ure alongside Jenna Ortega capturing her character's growing confidence, although Scott Mescudi and Brittany Snow are entertaining scene-stealers as the adult film leads. The standout member is an exemplary Mia Goth, capturing many facets on-screen with great impressiveness for the longer she appears.

While grisly scenes and fantastic practical effects are plentiful, the unexpected secret weapon is the heartfelt look at aging, best exemplified by a touching cover of Fleetwood Mac's Landslide. There are times when this feels at odds with the elderly couple's depiction, yet this doesn't take away from the effective moments this film delivers. If what's fancied is Boogie Nights meets The Visit, with added reverence for 70's slashers, then X marks the spot.

X is available in cinemas now