(The film premiered in theaters on March 18th and can now be rented on various VOD platforms.)
Between COVID, the stock market, and the prospect of World War III, scares are alive and well in 2022. Having said that, I’m willing to bet a set of old ranch hands never cracked your list of fears.
In the freshly concocted, throwback horror film from writer/director Ti West, X brews up scares anew — and they come at the hands of a married couple as old as time. Literally. They’re ancient.
One might even call them sweet if they weren’t religious, envious, and maybe mildly murderous.
But this isn’t a tale as old as time.
It’s a slasher film about a group of aspiring filmmakers in 1979 who rent the Airbnb from hell in rural Texas to shoot an adult film, The Farmer’s Daughters. And while the group thinks they’re making the Citizen Kane of porn — mostly because the producer Wayne (Martin Hutchinson) keeps telling them so — they’re in for a rude awakening when the farm owners Pearl (Goth) and Howard (artifact #1 and #2) catch them in the act of playing with all sorts of forbidden fruit.
One of the stars of the movie — both X and The Farmer’s Daughters — is young Maxine Minx (Goth again), the producer’s girlfriend. Maxine has thoughts of becoming a sex symbol mostly because she believes she can do things on film most others can’t per Wayne — her “X factor.”
Because of this belief and perhaps the mounds of cocaine she snorts, Maxine is planning on giving the genre a run for its money. Unfortunately, things don’t go swimmingly from the start once their nonagenarian landlords catch wind of their tenants plans during their stay. It’s not long before we realize these ranch hands make the Deliverance family look like the Partridge family.
When Maxine tosses her overalls aside to go for a dip in the pond behind the house, Pearl ogles her from afar. When Maxine performs her scene with adult film co-star Jackson (Kid Cudi), Pearl is nearby, watching her young protégé work through a window. Then there’s the climactic scene in bed, which gets a little close for comfort for Maxine once Pearl puts the moves on.
It all makes for excellent thrills — and Goth does a convincing job playing predator and prey, protagonist and antagonist, in this film. From her wide-eyed-whole-future-ahead-of-her vibe as Maxine to her brittle-boned-best-days-are-way-behind-her Pearl, Goth gives her best possible self to these two characters. Especially given the latter character’s odd fixation on the former.
With America still misty-eyed over the penultimate episode of This is Us, Goth’s performance could even remind one of Mandy Moore’s multi-generational performance as Rebecca Pearson — except you don’t even really know the elder Pearl is Goth until the end credits roll. Though any seasoned filmgoer knows there’s someone different underneath all of Pearl’s prosthetics.
It speaks highly to Goth’s ability to lose herself in these two roles — one filled with ambition and youthful optimism; the other fraught with envy over irretrievable youth and lost sexual desire.
Come to think of it, maybe Goth does have that X-factor after all.
The 28-year-old Goth was born to a Canadian father and Brazilian mother in Southwark, London, England with not two but five names — Mia Gypsy Mello da Silva Goth.
As luck would have it, Goth was discovered at Underage Festival in London at age 14 by a fashion photographer, and immediately began model work for ads in magazines such as Vogue.
Her acting career began not long after that, at 16, when she won the role as P in Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac Vol: II (2013) alongside Willem Dafoe. That’s where she met her then-boyfriend and eventual husband Shia LaBeouf, with whom she reportedly shares a son with now.
Interesting to note, Goth has done no less than six horror films to date including the post-apocalyptic thriller The Survivalist (2015), A Cure for Wellness (2016), and the remake of the Suspiria (2018), a supernatural horror film about a dance academy in Berlin run by witches.
Goth has also done her share of more lighthearted fare, including the period romantic comedy, Emma. (2020), alongside Anya Taylor-Joy.
For fans of X, you should know that writer/director West shot the prequel at the same time as the original in New Zealand — and it’s in post-production. Meaning? We can expect to see Goth reprise her role later this year. The film is simply being called Pearl and “will see Goth diving deeper into the backstory of Pearl as a young woman circa World War I.”
Gregg Rosenzweig has been a writer, creative director and managing editor for various entertainment clients, ad agencies and digital media companies over the past 20 years. He is also a partner in the talent management/production company, The Rosenzweig Group.