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X is a 2022 slasher film written and directed by Ti West (The Innkeepers, In a Valley of Violence, The House of the Devil) and starring Mia Goth, Jenna Ortega, Scott Mescudi, Martin Henderson, and Brittany Snow.

In 1979, a group of actors and a small film crew embark on a road trip through Texas to shoot a pornographic film titled The Farmer's Daughters for the booming theatrical porn market. Everyone involved is excited at the prospect of the film being their big break, but especially aspiring actress Maxine Minx (Goth), who wants nothing more than to be famous.

The group's trip leads them to the rural home of a reclusive, elderly couple, where they begin shooting the film without their knowledge. They then find that the elderly couple have begun to take a mysterious, lascivious interest in them, and as the day turns to night, their situation takes a dark turn that leaves them fighting for their lives.

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X was officially released on March 18, 2022, by A24, under a week after its SXSW premiere. At the festival, West revealed a prequel to the film titled Pearl was already in post-production, shot back-to-back with the film and centering around the elderly woman of the couple in her younger years. The film was released on September 16, 2022. Three days before that, Ti West and A24 announced a full sequel titled MaXXXine, once again starring Mia Goth as Maxine seeking to make it as an actress in 1985 Hollywood.


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X provides examples of:

  • The '70s: The film takes place in 1979.
  • '70s Hair: Jackson’s afro definitely qualifies, as well as Bobby-Lynne's bob and Maxine's feathered waves.
  • Advertising by Association: The trailer promotes A24 as "the studio that brought you Hereditary".
  • All There in the Script: Sheriff Dentler and Officer Mitchell's names are only mentioned in the credits.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Both Bobby-Lynne and Maxine wear shirts that show their stomachs, Maxine's boob tube and Bobby-Lynne's halter-neck top.
  • Bat Deduction: Hilariously subverted when the police investigate the crime scene and one of them asks the sheriff what he thinks happened, possibly setting up a classic instance of this trope where the cop deduces the exact events that unfolded. Due to the weirdness of the scene, however, the sheriff simply asks, “How the fuck would I know?”
  • Book Ends: The film opens on police at the farmhouse as a flash-forward, and ends with the same scene once it has become the chronological present.
  • Bunker Woman: Pearl and Howard have been keeping a man in the basement, presumably as a Sex Slave. Howard plans to do the same to Lorraine, though Pearl would prefer Maxine.
  • Car Fu: Maxine backs the truck over Pearl's head in her final act before driving off to freedom at the end of the film.
  • Central Theme: Sex, namely through the foiling dynamic of free love and Christian sexual repression.
  • Chekhov's Gun: A literal gun, but played with in that it hinders the protagonist. After pointing a shotgun in Wayne's face, Howard mentions that it isn't loaded, noting that waving it around is usually enough to get people to stand down. Wayne casually mentions that he does the same thing to the handgun in his glovebox. Howard is bluffing, as he uses the same shotgun to kill Jackson and Lorraine later in the film. Wayne isn't, as Maxine threatens Pearl with it, only to pull the trigger and find that it's empty.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Or rather Chekhov's gun-animal. When Maxine goes skinny dipping early in the film, we see an alligator enter from the right side of the frame and start moving towards her as she swims to the dock obliviously. She eventually pulls herself up out of harm's way just in time. The alligator is then shown lurking nearby when Jackson looks for Pearl in the woods at night, but it's actually put to use when it ambushes and devours Bobby-Lynne moments after Pearl pushes her into the lake.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death:
    • RJ is stabbed in the throat repeatedly by Pearl, a prolonged and extremely bloody process that continues even after we see his neck literally collapse.
    • The alligator in the pond kills Bobby-Lynne by biting her head, dragging her underwater, and presumably devouring her and/or ripping her apart. As she thrashes, it's not-so-subtly implied that the gator is doing a death roll while her head is still in its jaws.
  • Death by Sex: Doubly subverted. Howard and Pearl consummate after killing all but Maxine and Lorraine, despite Pearl’s hesitancy because of Howard’s bad heart. He says, "My heart can take it," and it does...for about 20 minutes, until he keels over after shooting Lorraine.
  • Deconstruction: It may be a slasher through and through, but this film offers a lot of social commentary and subtext on the dueling forces of free love and Christian chastity. In many ways, the excesses of free love are portrayed as the logical conclusion of a deeply flawed Christian moral system imploding.
    • On one hand, free love is depicted in a very unflattering light. The porn shoot can, not withstanding the girls' youthful good looks, at times veer into Fan Disservice instead of Fanservice for some viewers, especially with Wayne's sleazy attitude scrubbing any higher ideals out of the film in favor of pure smut. The lack of commitment that sexual freedom encourages can also lead to emptiness and terribly hurt feelings over perceived betrayals, with RJ's reaction to Lorraine taking part in the film portrayed as Et Tu, Brute? at its finest. Finally, its fixation on a youthful ideal of beauty fuels a lot of Howard and Pearl's resentment of the porn crew.
    • On the other hand, Christian chastity is portrayed as encouraging hypocrisy, repressive environments, and suppressed desires that can build up into bitter resentments later in life, as evidenced by Lorraine's revolt against her Christian upbringing and the fact that Maxine was a Preacher's Kid with no regrets about going into porn.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Pearl misses having sex with Howard and still seems attracted to him, but seems most attracted to Maxine out of all the filmmakers, groping her in bed. Judging from what she says to Howard, their basement captives have been both men and women, too.
  • Deus ex Machina: Acknowledged. When Pearl pulls the trigger on the shotgun, she misses Maxine completely despite the short distance. Immediately after this happens, the preacher on TV talks about a divine intervention. That said, this is justified since Pearl never demonstrated any particular expertise in using firearms and was completely unable to control the recoil.
  • Dissonant Serenity: When Pearl first stabs RJ in the throat, her expression remains absolutely unchanging as she watches him collapse and choke on his own blood.
  • Double Entendre: The protagonists' van is marked "Plowing Services".
  • Double-Meaning Title: The title X references both the adults-only X rating of the early days of the MPAA, and how Wayne keeps telling Maxine she has "the X factor" when she asks if he thinks she can be a big star.
  • Dramatic Irony: The film uses this trope heavily:
    • We see the alligator swimming toward Maxine while she swims slowly toward the dock, unaware.
    • We see the nail sticking up on the floor as Wayne walks toward it, unaware.
    • The whole second act is basically a series of scenes in which the audience is waiting for the main characters to discover that the old couple is killing people.
    • Wayne tells Howard that he's eyeing up Maxine because "he's never seen anything like her before". Howard's wife Pearl is elderly, but both are played by Mia Goth.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: An intentional example as part of the film's Deconstruction of slashers. Ti West and Mia Goth have stated that X was meant to show stereotypical slasher archetypes as complex and sympathetic people rather than disposable assholes, so their deaths would actually be meaningful.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Played with. Sheriff Dentler and Officer Mitchell are the first characters to appear on screen, but from a chronological standpoint, the sheriff and his partner first show up when Wayne drives into traffic.
  • Evil Old Folks: Deviant serial killers Pearl and Howard.
  • Fan Disservice: Lampshaded and used repeateadly through the film, highlighting the dissonance (as as such, the double standard regarding youthfulness in the movie industry) between the titillating body shots of the young actors, and the scenes showing the unflattering, old bodies of Pearl and Howard. Pearl attempts to strip for people at multiple points in the film, and fully disrobes to get in bed with and molest Maxine, and that's not to discount the sex scene between her and Howard, which puts liberal focus on Howard's backside.
  • Fanservice: Mia Goth and Brittany Snow appear nude and/or topless in several scenes, and Jenna Ortega briefly strips to her underwear. Additionally, Kid Cudi spends a considerable time onscreen nude with copious shots of his backside (and one brief full-frontal scene), and Martin Henderson — who's in fantastic shape — spends a portion of the film in nothing but a pair of tighty whiteys.
  • Fed to the Beast: Bobby-Lynne’s kill, where Pearl kicks her in the lake knowing an alligator is below.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing:
    • When RJ starts up the van in his attempt to abandon the shoot, "Don't Fear the Reaper" starts playing on the radio. He soon encounters Pearl, who ends up becoming his reaper.
    • When fighting with Pearl, Maxine says the same line as the preacher on TV. Around five minutes later, she's revealed to be his actual daughter.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Early in the film, the televangelist mentions that his daughter has fallen into sin. It's revealed in the end that pornstar Maxine is his daughter.
    • Of the characters' deaths:
      • When Bobby-Lynne walks out of the strip club, there's a mural of an alligator pulling off a blonde woman's bikini, similar to her later death of being attacked by one in the pond.
      • Wayne mentions that he didn't serve in the army because of his flat feet condition and later gushes to RJ that "people's eyes are gonna pop out of their damn skulls" when they see The Farmer's Daughters. He winds up stepping on a nail when investigating the barn and dies from his eyes being impaled and ripped out with a pitchfork.
      • Jackson mentions being threatened by farmers with guns while in Vietnam and is later killed by Howard with a shotgun.
      • Howard states that he doesn't have sex because of his heart condition. Thus, after he and Pearl have sex, it is not surprising when he dies from a heart attack shortly after.
      • Howard mentions that Pearl could fall and break her hip, which happens once she gets blowback from trying to shoot Maxine with a shotgun.
    • After allowing Wayne into the guest house, Howard claims his shotgun isn't loaded and only there for intimidation. Wayne visibly relaxes and says that he does the same with the revolver in his van. During the climax, it turns out only Wayne was telling the truth, while Howard is able to shoot down Lorraine and Jackson with his gun while Maxine is left nearly defenseless with Wayne's.
    • Lorraine brings up Psycho when arguing with her boyfriend. In Psycho, Lila Crane discovers Mrs. Bates's corpse in the cellar. Similarly, Lorraine will also find a corpse in the basement.
  • "Here's Johnny!" Homage: Played with. Lorraine sticks her face out of the crack in the door that she made with the axe when she's trapped in the basement. However, she's not the killer and she's in terrible danger.
  • Homage:
    • To The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Both are 1970s-set slasher films set over a beautiful summer's day and a night about a group of young people in rural Texas who venture into a rural farmhouse only to learn that the people inside are vicious. It gets a specific Shout-Out in the scene of Bobby-Lynne walking slowly towards the house from the swing. The appearance of a man-eating crocodile also recalls Chain Saw director Tobe Hooper's following film, Eaten Alive.
    • To Psycho.
      • Jackson stumbles across a partially submerged car in the swamp, framed to look like the closing shot of that movie.
      • Lorraine gives the film a Shout-Out as one of RJ's favorites.
      • More subtly, in the same scene, the group eat sandwiches on white Wonder Bread, just before the killing begins; in Psycho, Marion and Norman similarly share white Wonder Bread sandwiches before the first murder occurs.
      • Wayne peering through the holes in the wall of the barn also closely resembles Norman peering through the peephole.
      • Like Lila, Lorraine finds a dead body in the basement.
    • The style of scene transition that cross-cuts back and forth between the current scene and the next scene is lifted from Easy Rider.
    • Lorraine takes an axe to a door with the camera following her swings, a la Jack Torrance in The Shining. But in a unique inversion of the usual reference, instead of trying to break in somewhere, here Lorraine is breaking down the door to get out.
    • Maxine lightly treading water while skinny-dipping in the lake is a dead ringer for Chrissie doing the same thing out at sea during her famous death scene in Jaws. The overhead view of the alligator swimming towards Maxine also invokes the famous poster of the Great White Shark swimming upwards and underneath the swimming woman.
  • How We Got Here: The film opens with police at the farmhouse the morning after the events of the film, with the scene covered in blood and bodies, and jumps back to 24 hours prior, when the cast and crew embark on their fateful journey.
  • The Immodest Orgasm:
    • Feigned by Bobby-Lynne. Jackson assumes that he's given her one of these, but she demonstrates it's acting.
    • Pearl has one when she and Howard are having sex.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: As can be expected with a film where the killers are a sexually frustrated old couple who lets a film crew into their farmhouse without knowing they are actually filming porn, there is plenty of this.
    • While stabbing RJ to death, Pearl crawls on top of him and appears to have an orgasm.
    • Pearl and Howard have vigorous sex for what is implied to be the first time in many years midway through their murder spree.
  • Instant Death Bullet: Subverted. Lorraine survives a few minutes after getting shot in the face with a shotgun. This actually becomes a plot point, as her death rattle startles Howard enough for him to suffer the heart attack that kills him.
  • Ironic Echo: When Lorraine expresses reservations about filming the movie early on, her boyfriend RJ asks her "when did you become such a prude?" Later, when Lorraine decides to film a scene in the movie to RJ’s vehement disapproval, she knowingly asks him "when did you become such a prude?"
  • Irony:
    • Wayne tells RJ at one point that when audiences see the porno they’re making, ”people’s eyes are going to pop out of their damn skulls". He later experiences that very thing himself via Pearl’s pitchfork.
    • Maxine proclaims that “the world is going to know [her] name.” At the very end, the preacher on TV reveals a photo of her and announces that she is his daughter, seduced by a life of depravity. And by virtue of being the sole survivor of a massacre by two serial killers, the world might very well know her name eventually.
    • RJ says, somewhat ruefully, “Let’s see them get out of here without me” as he’s stealing the truck to abandon the group at the farm in the middle of the night. Indeed, once RJ is “gone” courtesy of Pearl’s knife, the majority of the group fails to leave the farm, due to being killed rather than lacking transport.
  • Jump Scare: A considerable amount of them abound once the horror starts to pick up.
  • Kick the Dog: After getting rescued by Maxine and told to be quiet to prevent the old couple hearing them, Lorraine screams abuse at Maxine and blames everything on her moments before she's shot dead by Howard, making her death less tragic.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Pearl breaks her hip due to the shotgun's recoil just as the televised sermon reaches the topic of "divine intervention". The coincidence is not lost on Maxine.
    Maxine: [driving over Pearl's head] Huh. Divine intervention...
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Howard has a fatal heart attack when he's startled by a dying Lorraine suddenly coughing up blood. Later, Pearl’s attempt to shoot Maxine with the shotgun results in her dislocating a hip and leaving her helpless on the ground, allowing Maxine to crush her head with the truck.
  • Law of Inverse Recoil: Subverted. Pearl is sent flying backwards after firing a shotgun.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • RJ tells Bobby-Lynne that he doesn't have to film the porno in chronological order because he can just rearrange the story during editing. The movie itself does not play in chronological order, as it begins with the police discovering the aftermath of the film's events.
    • An example that doubles as foreshadowing; when Lorraine expresses interest in playing a role in the porno, RJ protests on the grounds that they can't just change the story halfway through, only for her to counter that one of his favorite films, Psycho, also has a Halfway Plot Switch. It's shortly after this scene that the film changes gears and turns into a full-blown Slasher Movie.
    • The very last line of the movie. When police that arrive at the farmhouse discover RJ's camera, one officer wonders what could be on it. Another suggests, from the grisliness of the crime scene they're in, that the camera contains "one goddamn fucked-up horror picture."
  • Male Frontal Nudity: RJ seems to focus his camera on Jackson's face during the sex scenes, so we get very little, but brief flashes of it do occur.
    • Most notably, when Howard shows up at the farmhouse, Jackson answers the door fully nude, and a silhouette of his (almost comically long) penis can be seen.
    • We also get a quick panning shot of the nude male victim Pearl has strung up in her basement, complete with a rather sizable penis on display.
  • Meaningful Echo: For Maxine: "I will not accept a life I do not deserve." It gets repeated by the televangelist on Pearl's TV when Maxine says it the second time, shortly before it's revealed he's her father.
  • Never Give the Captain a Straight Answer: In the opening scene, one police officer at the farmhouse says to another, "You ought to come take a look at this," and leads him into the basement to find what is later revealed to be the naked chained-up corpse.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: An alligator is introduced early on in a lake near the farm; while it near-misses Maxine, it attacks and devours Bobby-Lynne.
  • Non-Malicious Monster: The alligator (unlike the old couple) has no actual evil or malicious intentions; it is simply a very dangerous carnivorous animal.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: While they almost certainly would've been killed anyway, the majority of the victims are disarmed by Howard and/or Pearl and are trying to help them:
    • Bobby-Lynne runs to Pearl and wraps her in a blanket, trying to guide her inside before being pushed into the lake and eaten by a crocodile. Though she gives up immediately when Pearl calls her a bitch.
    • Lorraine is tricked into going down in the cellar by Howard asking her to go get a flashlight for the risk that Pearl has fallen down the stairs, and locks her in, presumably with a plan to rape, torture, and kill her.
    • Jackson volunteers to search for Pearl so that Howard won't have to do it, and then gets shot by Howard for his trouble.
  • "Not So Different" Remark:
    • When RJ and Wayne have a private talk after RJ voices his disapproval of allowing Lorraine to have a scene in their film, RJ maintains that she is a nice girl at heart unlike Bobby-Lynne and Maxine. Wayne responds by telling RJ that none of the three are "nice girls".
    • Pearl tries to tell Maxine that she's "just like [her]" and that Maxine will end up like her. Maxine replies that she "will not accept a life she doesn't deserve."
  • Not the First Victim: We've already seen Pearl kill RJ, before Howard persuades Lorraine to go down in the basement and finds an earlier victim strung up in there. It's confirmed that he wasn't their first, either.
  • One-Letter Title: The title is just the letter "X".
  • Overdrawn at the Blood Bank: The death of RJ by way of Pearl stabbing him at least twenty times. RJ spurts so much blood from his neck, it actually stains the van’s headlights, fully turning them from white to red.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Maxine kills Pearl — who by then has broken her hip and is completely defenseless — by running her head over. Given that Pearl is a "kidnapping, murdering sex fiend" who has killed at least six people, it's hard to argue she didn't deserve it.
  • Porn Names: Bobby-Lynne and Jackson Hole, the former being a reference to the "last name + Lynn" naming formula for female porn stars and the latter a pun on a real-life Wyoming resort (and, of course, the sexual meaning of "hole"). Maxine Minx is also a reference to the alliterative names that frequent the adult film industry. However, Maxine's first name really is Maxine since her preacher father calls her by that name.
  • Precision F-Strike: Pearl never swears until she pushes Bobby-Lynne into the lake, who to that point has gone on a tirade about how people in Pearl’s generation are bitter because they didn't experience sexual liberation in their youth. She almost ends the tirade by calling her a bitch, but is cut short, and Pearl uses the word instead to refer to Bobby-Lynne.
  • The Savage South: The film is set in rural Texas, which is portrayed as an extremely backward and dangerous region inhabited by xenophobic, violent country folk and man-eating alligators.
  • Screw Yourself: The Meta Casting subtext of [[spoiler:Pearl being most attracted to Maxine, when both are played by the same actress (with Mia Goth not using makeup or prosthetics to play young Pearl.)
  • Serious Work, Comedic Scene: This is a mostly serious horror movie with several moment of dark comedy, such as Pearl firing a shotgun and getting blasted out the open door behind her by the recoil.
  • Shag Wagon: The film crew's van is a more subtle example than most, denoted as such largely by the Double Entendre "Plowing Service" written on the side.
  • Shark Pool: An alligator lives in the lake on Howard and Pearl’s property. At first, it appears to almost eat Maxine, who goes skinny dipping there on her own free will. But later on, Pearl kicks Bobby-Lynne into the lake, and Bobby-Lynne gets eaten by the alligator.
  • Shave And A Haircut: When Wayne first approaches Howard's house on the farm, he knocks the door in this rhythm.
  • Shower of Angst: RJ takes a shower late at night while everyone else is asleep and cries after reluctantly allowing Lorraine to take a role and have a sex scene with Jackson.
  • Skinny Dipping: Maxine does this in the lake, narrowly avoiding getting attacked by an alligator looming behind her.
  • STD Immunity: Subverted. The subject finally comes up when RJ is extremely hesitant to have Lorraine appear in a sex scene and is concerned about her getting them. Wayne also isn’t afraid of getting STDs, but is afraid of getting tetanus when a nail goes through his foot.
  • The Stinger: A trailer for the upcoming prequel Pearl airs after the credits.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Getting shot in the face, even with a shotgun, won’t necessarily kill you immediately, as poor Lorraine demonstrates.
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: As R.J. starts up the truck in his planned escape, the radio is playing "Don't Fear the Reaper", which ends up being the soundtrack to him being murdered by Pearl.
  • There Is No Kill like Overkill: Pearl's first stab to the throat on RJ would likely have been enough to end his life. But she just keeps stabbing him over and over and over again after he slumps to the ground, and even after he's clearly dead.
  • Too Dumb to Live: As a young black man living in 1979, Jackson is lured into the swamp by an old white man with a shotgun who angrily confronts him and accuses him of seducing his wife, and yet he's taken completely by surprise when the old man promptly shoots him. You'd expect that every single aspect of this scenario would put him on edge.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Lorraine rewards Maxine for rescuing her by screaming abuse at her, alerting Howard and Pearl to their presence. However, she is also extremely traumatized and scared out of her mind when it happens, which is implied to be the reason for her sudden personality shift.
  • Within Arm's Reach: Happens, but it doesn't work the way anyone was expecting. When Maxine fails to shoot Pearl, Pearl picks up a gun that's conveniently by her foot. Pearl then shoots at Maxine, but gets blown away by the force of the shotgun's blowback and breaks her hip, disabling her.
  • X Meets Y: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (gory, Southern-set horror over a single day and night) meets Boogie Nights (a group performing porn).

Alternative Title(s): X

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