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X (A Movie Review)

Updated: Jul 27, 2023

X (2019)

Starring Hope Raymond, Eliza Boivin, Brian Smick, Zachary Cowan, Valerie Façhman, Hans Probst, Ashley Raggs, Miyoko Sakatani, Perry Fenton, Vicky Lopez, Mira Gutoff, George Arana, Jaime Soltys, Tony Clark, Wendy Taylor, Wendy Wyatt-Mair, Trevor Ossian Cameron, Alex De Nicolo, Ethan Fry and the voice of Hunter Ridenour.

Screenplay by Hannah Katherine Jost and Scott J. Ramsey.

Directed by Scott J. Ramsey.

Distributed by Cinedigm. 127 minutes. Not Rated.

Wow, is this what sex parties are like?

The new “erotic thriller” X shows a bacchanalia of lots of scantily dressed (but very few actually naked) people wearing lingerie and old-fashioned masquerade masks writhing all over a Los Angeles ranch house compound. It sort of feels like a low-rent version of Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut.

It’s oddly exotic, perhaps, but honestly, it’s not particularly sexy, or even sexual. Which is a description which probably applies to the movie X, as well. It is trying so hard to be edgy and scandalous – and in some ways it kind of is, yet in other ways it feels a little sad and sordid.

For example, one of the characters is shown masturbating (while, again, not undressed) literally at least a dozen times throughout the too-long running time of X. (Over two hours for this story???!!!) At one point she is shown doing it at four different times in four different shots in split screen. Eventually is it titillating or is it uncomfortable?

I suppose that is in the eyes of the viewer. I hit the point where I was like: Okay, she likes to play with herself. I’ve got the point.

The hostess of the parties is Christian (Hope Raymond), owner of the home and daughter of a once-famous singer who is now suffering through dementia. (She still sees adult Christian as a pre-teen girl.)

Christian walks around the compound in total control, with all of her guests unsuccessfully attempting to seduce her. (She is the only person in the place who doesn’t wear one of the florid masks, which takes on a whole new meaning in the post-Covid world.) However, it turns out that she is much more damaged and insecure than she lets on.

This insecurity is brought to the fore when Stella (Eliza Boivin), a former high-school friend and crush of Christian’s who now makes a living as an internet cam girl, is mysteriously invited to one of the highly organized sex parties. Christian can’t figure out how Stella got in, nor why she decided to come. Two men who went to high school with them also figure in on this question, did they have anything to do with it?

The mystery – this is supposed to be a thriller, remember – has to do with a camera hidden in the guest bathroom. Through it, the voyeuristic hostess watches silent, black-and-white long shots of her guests putting on makeup, having sex, using the toilet, taking drugs, throwing up, whatever.

Yes, that’s massively creepy, but so is almost everything else happening in the house. However, this voyeurism is her deep, dark secret. She berates herself as a pervert for being more interested in watching her guests unaware than actually touching them.

Honestly, I’m having a bit of a hard time seeing what the huge deal is. These people go to a place so they can have sex with strangers in public. They can’t really have that much of an expectation of privacy, can they? Nor are they overly shy about their bodies. So, if someone uses a cam to get a bit of personal spank material, would they really be all that upset about it? That seems kind of unlikely. These people would probably be turned on by the thought.

Then one day, the video card of the camera is stolen. Someone knows her deep, dark secret, and she panics as to how the world will respond. Will the person expose her? Was it Stella? Was it someone else? Will they return the card? Will they leak the videos? Will this scandal cause her whole world to come crashing down upon her?

Will the audience really care all that much?

I’m afraid not. Sadly, much of the audience – unlike Christian – may just have to say, “I don’t particularly like to watch.”

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2021 All rights reserved. Posted: February 9, 2021.

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