X (2022)

There seems to be a long history of sexual repression in horror. I think that comes from people (and not just religious people) who equated sex with immorality. If the aim was not a baby, the sex was sinful. Even masturbation is seen by some as unhealthy and unbecoming of a person’s mental and spiritual health. However, a lot of human bodies are wired to desire sexual satisfaction and that is just how a lot of us are put together. Limiting sexual congress to just reproduction would eliminate a lot of what sex is. Taking all of that way would suck the joy out of life. Sure, society can let itself get out of hand when it comes to sex but getting rid of it will never be the correct or healthy solution. People need to have fun because enjoying life is kind of the point. You do not have fun to make work feel better, you work to make fun possible. There is nothing immoral about enjoying yourself if nobody is getting hurt.

We do see it a lot in horror, though. Scream was kind of the first mainstream movie that put it out there in words but characters in horror are punished for having sex. That is one of the “rules” put forward in that franchise because it existed long before the nineties. Famously, Pamela and Jason Voorhees tended to punish people for having sex because that distraction led to Jason’s drowning. Norma Bates taught her son Norman that sex was sinful and that all women were whores and therefore distractions from a righteous past. The point of this seems to be so that the audience can see a sex scene but also see these characters get punished. The audience feels better about it because nobody got away with it. It is a transactional kind of morality where people can enjoy things that are “bad” if the ledger is then balanced. 

The first thing I noticed was the setting, I have been to these wide-open rural settings before and they are peaceful but also unsettling. This means that I also noticed the always-excellent A24 cinematography. This is a film company that makes every frame a painting but Ti West, Eliot Rockett, and their team did an exceptionally good job. A lot of period imagery from the dying gasps of the 1970s which always feels dirty to me. Must be the film grain. The gore is so good with plenty of juicy red blood and the prosthetics they use really look great. When you are making a grounded horror film, the violence has to be grounded too. This limits the cartoonishness of it but also allows for more brutality in a way. The kills are mean in the best ways. I really loved the slow slip of tone from warm and fun to cold and scary.

I am far from the first person to say it but Mia Goth is an amazing actress and plays two different roles in this movie. She is likable as the audience’s point of view character and scary as the hardened farm woman. Brittany Snow is fun as the sexy blonde bombshell who is smarter than she seems. Martin Henderson is great as the fast-talking leader of the outfit who seems to get by on his sheer force of will. Jenna Ortega is cute as the young girl way out of her depth. Scott Mescudi’s sarcastic humor and lightness help keep things moving along. Owen Campbell is good as the nerdy film buff who is excited to finally be making something big. I like the chemistry among the cast, they really feel like people I would love to hang out with. 

Overall, I really loved this movie. It was a really interesting story and had some amazing visuals. The blood was a lot of fun and the scares were definitely earned. I loved the duality of the villain and the heroine of the movie being played by the same actress. I also liked that the message of the movie was way more sex-positive and honest than horror usually is. I definitely recommend this movie and I look forward to the prequel and sequel.

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