2. “X” (2022)
“X” is a new horror classic. Independent horror filmmaker Ti West, who had previously made films like “The Innkeepers” and “The House of the Devil,” returns to horror filmmaking after a stint in episodic television (and before that a poorly received but still underrated Western), significantly upping his game in the process. The results are genuinely stunning. “X” follows a group of oddball pornographers (among them: Mia Goth, Brittany Snow, Kid Cudi and Martin Henderson) who rent out a barn in an elderly evangelical couple’s Texas to make a dirty movie called “The Farmer’s Daughter.” Soon enough, they are picked off, one by one, in classic slasher movie fashion. What makes “X” different and what gives it an extra dimension that borders on poignancy, is that the killers are the elderly evangelical couple themselves (Goth also plays the old woman, Pearl). What could have just been an excellent exploitation film, riffing on West’s favorite films of the 1970s (and not just the horror movies, either) becomes something much more. You not only understand Pearl’s motivations, her frustration with her body failing her while her mind still races, but you might even root for her. It’s an uncomfortable position to put an audience in, especially one that asks to be delighted by all the bloodshed and nude bodies (both of which are plentiful).
What’s even better is that A24, sensing the potential for a new horror franchise, okayed West to secretly shoot a prequel film, called “Pearl” and set during World War I, which will release soon (our bet is Halloween 2022). Honestly, a whole fleet of films would be welcome, the world of “X” is so rich.