From filmmaker Scott J. Ramsey, X is a queer campy erotic thriller that kept me guessing. It might not be for everyone, but if you’re into weirdness and confusion, you’ll likely have a good time.
I was provided with a free digital screener of X for review. The opinions I have shared are my own.
Trigger Warning: This review of X mentions sexual assault.
The good thing about X is that it knows what kind of film it’s supposed to be. The promotional material described this indie title as a “Hitchcockian mix of melodrama, thriller, and camp”. And we all know how messy such descriptors can get when you throw queer characters into the mix.
The premise involves Christian (Hope Raymond) and her business partner Danny (Brian Smick) hosting masquerade balls for the wealthy. At the party, everyone’s identities are a secret. There’s no one around to judge and the guests are free to do whatever they want (consensually, of course). And while Christian screens the guests and keeps an eye on security, things change once an unexpected woman, Stella (Eliza Boivin), drops by.
I enjoyed seeing Christian struggling to keep control throughout the film. It’s clear Christian is someone who likes to maintain a sense of power over others. She’s the King of the masquerade balls, with Danny being the Queen. Christian also secretly monitors her guests. As she put it, she knows them better than their mothers, spouses, etc. It’s creepy and predatory. It’s all about feeling powerful. She’s ashamed of what she does. So, at least, there’s some redeeming quality in her character.
Over the course of the approximate 2 hours 10 minutes running time (I think the film could have been shorter), we get to learn more about Christian and her past issues. Stuff has been weighing down on her since her high school years. She also has issues with her famous mother. Basically, Christian feels like an outcast. She can’t even fully trust Danny. Her loneliness is a big factor behind how she’s been acting as a young adult.
I liked how links between Christian and certain guests were slowly revealed. While the pace drags in the beginning, things get really interesting once Christian finds out about one of her guests sexually assaulting another.
Christian’s dilemma felt understandable to me. How can she reveal what she saw when it involves exposing her secret too? Also, is Christian even entirely sure what she saw is actually what happened?
As I said, there are a lot of twists and turns in X. And I don’t want to spoil things. It’s not the most polished film (which adds to the campiness of it all), but it kept me engrossed. I wanted to know what was going to happen to Christian at the end.
Do keep in mind when watching this movie that these aren’t perfect characters.
X will be available to buy or rent on all major digital platforms including Amazon, Google Play, and VUDU come February 9, 2021. You can also pre-order it on iTunes/Apple TV.
Accompanying the film’s release is the album At the Devil’s Ball. The 11-track “electro-cabaret” album features music from the movie by the goth pop duo The Major Arcana. It will be available to stream and download on music platforms everywhere on February 16, 2021. The Spotify Album Pre-Save Link is here.
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Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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