Get Tickets X opens March 18th
Whenever discussing the best horror writers and directors of the 21st Century, it’s impossible to have the conversation without mentioning Ti West or any of his critically acclaimed movies that have come out over the course of the past decade-and-a-half. Just take a quick glance at his list of credits and you’ll immediately see unique horror movies like THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, THE INNKEEPERS, THE SACRAMENT, and multiple others that offered something new to the genre while also paying respects to the icons that came before him.
His most recent movie, X, follows an adult film crew who find themselves the target of a mysterious elderly couple. X is coming to AMC Theatres on Friday, March 18 – just a few days after premiering at the 2022 South by Southwest festival – check out the trailer below:
With X headed to theatres, now is a good a time to look back on some of West’s biggest contributions throughout his career with a major focus on the three movies mentioned above. This is a perfect opportunity both for those who want to become familiar with his work and longtime fans of the filmmaker who want to see if our thoughts reflect yours. Let’s go ahead and break these down.
The House Of The Devil
Even though it was technically his third feature film, Ti West became a sensation in the horror genre with THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL in late 2009. By combining elements from the slasher and supernatural horror sub-genres, West was able to create a movie that simultaneously feels like something you would see in the late 1970s or early ‘80s and something fresh and new, all creating a tremendously fun and terrifying experience.
THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL follows a young college student named Samantha Hughes (DOCTOR SLEEP’s Jocelin Donahue) who decides to take a babysitting job at a house outside of town so that she can pay the first month’s rent at a new apartment. But once Samantha gets to the house and meets the couple who posted the job listing at her school, the young woman realizes there is no kid but instead an old woman who needs to be monitored until late in the night. As the night goes on, Samantha discovers that something sinister and more dangerous is afoot, but is it too late?
What follows is one of the most terrifying experiences in modern-day horror, one that plays on the audience’s expectations before subverting them entirely to create a sensation like never before. The tone of the movie is made all the more frightening thanks to the cinematography and unsettling music that drones throughout.
In early 2011, Ti West delivered yet another moody, atmospheric, and terrifying modern-day gem with the supernatural horror film THE INNKEEPERS. Although not as groundbreaking or unique as something like THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, this intimate story is about the employees and guests — both living and deceased — in a historic New England hotel.
THE INNKEEPERS primarily follows Claire and Luke, (Sara Paxton and Pat Healy, respectively) two young employees of the Yankee Pedlar Inn who are watching the desk and tending to guests in what is to be the landmark’s final weekend in operation before closing for good. These aren’t just typical hotel workers but instead ghost hunters who are trying to uncover the secrets of the small Connecticut inn before they are forever lost. But in doing so, the pair awakens the ghost of Madeline O’Malley (Brenda Cooney), a woman who reportedly hanged herself in the hotel after being left at the altar. And like in most ghost stories, sometimes it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie.
What follows is a story that showcases Ti West’s ability to slowly increase the tension in a horror movie, creating a slow and methodical narrative that has you asking all kinds of questions before you reach the chilling boiling point where the characters come face to face with their biggest fears.
Ti West dipped his toes in the found footage waters for the “Second Honeymoon” short in the 2012 anthology horror film V/H/S, but the director went all in with his 2013 feature length film THE SACRAMENT. What is really unique about this movie, and something I wish more films in this horror sub-genre would do more often, is the fact that the main characters are from a Vice film crew making a documentary about a reclusive and seemingly peaceful commune called Eden Parish, which looks and feels a whole lot like the Peoples Temple, the cult at the center of the 1978 Jonestown Massacre.
The main characters in THE SACRAMENT go to the closed-off community deep in the jungle in some remote part of the world in hopes to find one of their sisters and learn more about Eden Parish and its founder, Charles Anderson Reed, aka “Father,” who is played by Gene Jones. Over time, the documentary crew learns things aren’t as peaceful and free-loving as they seem, and the situation becomes darker and more dangerous as the days go by. Things only get worse when members of the cult ask the film crew to help them escape, which further escalates the leader’s paranoia and deteriorating mental state.
If you have read anything about or watched documentaries on Jonestown and its final hours, then you can see where THE TESTAMENT takes audiences throughout its thrilling and sobering narrative. This is a movie that sticks with you long after the credits roll. I mean, it has been nearly a decade since I first watched the chilling found footage film and I’m still thinking about it.
This is just a very small portion of Ti West’s directorial efforts from over the years, and doesn’t even touch on movies like the surprisingly fun CABIN FEVER 2: SPRING FEVER or his 2016 western IN A VALLEY OF VIOLENCE, but there’s always time for that later. In the meantime, we can look forward to seeing West’s slasher throwback X when it opens in AMC Theatres Friday, March 18.
Get Tickets X opens March 18th