X (2022) Movie Explained: Review & Ending Analyzed
X (2022) Movie Review & Ending Explained: Ti West’s horror film has been getting rave reviews ever since it debuted at the South by Southwest Film Festival. Like most horror fans have grown up watching Tobe Hooper’s seminal Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Friday the 13th Part II, West wants to pay homage to the slasher movies of old while updating it with his form of filmmaking style – be it from a narrative or filmmaking standpoint. The following will contain full spoilers, so proceed at your own risk.
X (2022) Movie Plot Summary & Synopsis:
The movie takes place in 1979 in rural Texas. We see the police reach farmland where a spree of murders has been reported. As the chief investigative officer enters through the door, we see blood strewn across the entrance, splattered across the floors and walls. He is then called by his subordinate to the darkened basement of the house, where he witnesses something that shocks him to the core. Behind him, the speeches of a popular evangelist play in the background.
The movie then shifts 24 hours earlier, where we follow porn actress and aspiring porn superstar Maxine on a road trip with her producer boyfriend Wayne, actors Bobby-Lynne and Jackson, the director RJ, and his girlfriend Lorraine, who is doubling as his AD. They are on their way to shooting an adult film for the currently booming home video market.
Lorraine is unimpressed with the film’s content and does not share the sentiments of her boyfriend, who, like any aspiring director, wants to make it more of a cinematic piece than a typical adult film. The group arrives at the house on the farmland belonging to Howard and Pearl, an elderly couple. The group intends to shoot the film “The Farmer’s Daughters” at their guest house. Howard is far more volatile towards the group, content to brandish a shotgun than listen to Wayne’s explanations. His capriciousness is proven right to Howard when he realizes that Wayne isn’t alone, with a proclamation screaming absolutism – “I don’t like you. I don’t think I like you all.
Pearl, on the other hand, is far more content to stalk Maxine, who is exploring the surroundings of the farmland. The largely unkempt open area also opens up to a nearby lake, where Maxine dips for a swim, Pearl surreptitiously watching her. Maxine swims alone at the lake, and unbeknownst to her, barely manages to survive being eaten by a gator while she was swimming and climbs out of the lake, missing the gator by inches.
As Maxine walks back to the guest house, Pearl invites her in, where they have a halting conversation. Pearl laments her senescence while envying Maxine’s youth, even managing to make a sexual advance on Maxine which creeps her out to walk away from the house. Later as she starts shooting for the movie, gyrating and having sex with Jackson on camera, she is watched by Pearl from the window of the guest house who gets aroused. She plans to consummate her arousal by having sex with Howard who rebuffs her, telling her his heart is too weak.
At night, as the crew relaxes, Lorraine makes a radical announcement. She wants to join in the film as an actor, eager to shed the image of a prude, much to the chagrin of her boyfriend, who is emphatically against her, but to no avail. RJ is finally convinced to shoot the scene by Wayne because he should leave his girlfriend alone. After all, refusing her so strongly would only backfire on him. However, that doesn’t have the desired effect. RJ shoots the scene between Lorraine and Jackson but has a hard time accepting Lorraine’s eagerness. This results in him being angry and deciding to leave in the van, but he is stopped at the gate by Pearl. Pearl attempts to seduce RJ, but as RJ refuses, offering to find Pearl’s husband, Pearl responds by stabbing him in the neck, and then violently stabbing at his dead body, after which she enacts an impromptu dance, bloody hands and dress and all.
Lorraine and Wayne notice RJ is missing, but the van is still on the grounds. Lorraine walks towards the farmhouse, where she is invited in by Howard, who claims Pearl is missing and requests Lorraine to fetch a flashlight from the basement. As she locates the flashlight in the darkened basement, she sees a rotting corpse hung by hooks. Terrified, she tries to escape, only to find she has been locked in. Meanwhile, Wayne tries to search for RJ at the barn, drives his naked foot into a nail on the ground, bleeding, and walks towards the barn wall where he thinks he saw a shadow obscuring the holes in the wall. As he tries to look through the holes, Pearl drives a pitchfork through his eyes and kills him.
Howard approaches the guest house and requests Jackson to help him locate Pearl, stating she is confused. Jackson searches for Pearl along with Howard through the forest and finally finds a submerged car in the lake. As Jackson walks back, Howard reveals his hatred towards them, stating the previous guests were too bohemian and didn’t deserve to live. He then shoots his shotgun through Jackson’s chest, killing him. Meanwhile, Pearl enters the guest house, climbs into Maxine’s bed, undresses and rubs her bloody hand along Maxine’s skin as she lies beside her. Maxine wakes up, finds Pearl in her bed, and screams in horror, waking up Bobby-Lynne in the next room she shared with Jackson. Bobby-Lynne sees Pearl escaping from the house and follows her. Meanwhile, Lorraine uses a hatchet she found in the basement to break through a panel in the door and tries to open the lock, only for Howard to bludgeon her finger and threaten her to get back to the basement. Bobby-Lynne follows Pearl to the lake, where she tries to comfort Pearl and clothe her, recalling how her “nana” used to be confused as well. However, Pearl slaps Bobby-Lynne and berates her, accusing her of being a whore, and then pushes her into the lake, where she is devoured by the alligator, with Pearl and Howard watching.
X (2022) Movie Ending Explained:
Maxine sees Pearl and Howard returning to the guest house, and she manages to hide under the bed. The elderly couple discusses the murders, with Pearl stating her interest in Maxine, as she is special like Pearl used to be. The couple soon has sex, while Maxine manages to crawl out from under the bed and flee to the van. She discovers RJ’s corpse and the keys are missing, but with Wayne’s pistol in the glove box. She arms herself with it and retraces her steps towards the basement, freeing Lorraine. However, Lorraine is angry at Maxine, blaming her for everything that happened, and she runs towards the front door, planning to escape, only to be shot by Howard. As the elderly couple tries to move the bodies, intending to frame this entire situation as a home invasion, Howard is startled by the almost-dead Lorraine gurgling out blood, which induces a heart attack. As Howard leans against the wall and falls to the ground, Maxine manages to find the keys to the van and threatens to shoot Pearl, only to discover that it is empty of bullets. Enraged, Pearl tries to shoot Maxine with the shotgun, misses, the recoil blasting Pearl out through the door, breaking her hip.
As Pearl lies on the ground begging Maxine for help, Maxine refuses, and on hearing Pearl’s berating in response, drives the van through Pearl, crushing her head. As she drives away from the bloody location, the action shifts to the following morning, when the police are baffled. The evangelist’s speech, which had been playing on the television since last night, reveals that Maxine was the daughter of the evangelist and one of the deviants and sex-fiends he is launching his campaign against. The police are baffled, and the only item of substance they discover is RJ’s camera, and they speculate on what horrors it might contain.
X (2022) Movie Review and Analysis:
The homage to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre is made clear by the way the film looks. The primary aesthetic of the film is a very 70s grainy filter, while the moments shot in RJ’s camera resemble snuff or adult films of the era with a heavy sepia tone. The modern methods of filmmaking, be it the zoom outs expanding the environment, or the static overhead shot over the lake while Maxine swims back, the alligator following her, are the moments emblematic of the modern approach to horror. The filmmaking in the first half serves to drive up the suspense by focusing on the farmland environment the film is taking place, while also giving it the vibe of a hangout movie either by the interactions between the characters in the van or the relaxing moment in the guest house which evolves into a tense and dramatic situation.
This slower approach to horror works when focusing on Pearl and her attraction to Maxine. Pearl’s signifying that Maxine “is special” kind of makes sense when you realize that they are both played by Mia Goth, Goth in heavy makeup in the case of Pearl. In a way, Pearl is trying to reconnect with her youth, be beautiful, and seeing almost a mirror version of herself attracts her and pushes her over the edge.
Maxine, on the other hand, is another interesting character. As revealed at the end, she is the daughter of the evangelist who propagates conservative values aggressively while simultaneously demonizing sex workers as fiends or deviants. In a way, Maxine’s repeating her father’s proclamation, “I will not accept a life I do not deserve” is both her rebelling against her father’s wishes and being unable to completely go against her programming. It also manages to subvert and elicit chuckles from you due to the inherent irony of the situation.
The soundtrack is mostly composed of eerie moans and vocalizations, as well as off-key string music that enhances the creepy nature of the story, which starts at a far more deliberate pace than you would expect. That’s why the transition from methodical horror to slasher gore-fest feels jarring and doesn’t gel as well as it should. West manages to shoot Pearl, killing RJ with a red filter as blood splatters over the headlights of the van, giving an inventive visual look. However, the movie feels stuck between trying to be subversive and deep and ultimately falling back on its slasher tropes. The slasher tropes are done well, no doubt. The gore is sloppy, and the kills are mildly inventive, but X feels it could have used a bit more simplicity in its approach. However, its love for the genre it is emulating is palpable, thus managing to be a modern version of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre far better than the actual movie of the property that came out a couple of months ago.
X (2022) Movie Links – IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Wikipedia
X (2022) Movie Cast – Mia Goth, Jenna Ortega, Brittany Snow, Kid Cudi, Martin Henderson, Owen Campbell