“X”: Ti West exalts a threatened hedonism


Of the previous films made by Ti West, none had been released theatrically in France. One wonders why. With titles like The House of the Devil (2009) and The Sacrament (2013), the filmmaker-producer-screenwriter had succeeded in transforming the strained forms of horror film to make a very personal use of it. It was less a question of renewing these than of amplifying, taking one’s time, the rhetorical possibilities and therefore, if need be, calling them into question or, at the very least, extracting their deep meaning. X does not proceed otherwise while having fun, in fine, to challenge, ironically, the ideology.

Cinematographic terror is essentially built on repression and repression, repression of impulses which arise in a monstrous form, that of a desire which would take the risk of upsetting the social order. It is on this dialectic that the film imposes itself as a questioning, as a joyful re-reading, as the exaltation of a sovereign yet threatened hedonism, an almost incongruous hypothesis in the midst of the puritanism of a certain contemporary American cinema.

The story takes place in the 1970s. This retrospective will of course designates the origins of a project which historically recalls its sources (the quasi-revolutionary irruption of what was then a new form of figuring fear) and certainly touches on parody , but above all a desire to return to what has frozen the conventions of horror for years to contradict their very bases.

A small film crew travels to Texas in search of a place suitable for their purpose, that of making a pornographic film discreetly and cheaply. Unbeknownst, of course, to the person who rents them a cabin, a stubborn and worrying old peasant. The choice of Texas (reconstituted in New Zealand where the film was shot), in addition to placing the story in the heart of a rural, regressive and threatening America, refers the film to an immediately identifiable source, Chainsaw Massacreof Tobe Hoopera work which in its time, 1974, had contributed to liberating and ennobling at the same time what was called exploitation cinema.

Unleashed violence

Ti West sketches in a few shots and various situations the portrait of endearing and annoying characters at the same time, those who make up the film’s team made up of a producer who is both nerdy and cynical; of a starlet of the genre, of an unbroken freshness as well as an expert professional agility; of an indefatigable stallion, an emeritus “hardeur”; of a frustrated director, dreaming of signing a personal and “artistic” film; his wife, finally, a prudish sound taker, gradually disturbed and fascinated by the scenes that unfold before her eyes and the relaxed relationship to sex that they express.

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“X”: Ti West exalts a threatened hedonism