Between ‘X’ And ‘Deep Water,’ It’s A Glorious Time For Dirty Movies

Early on in X, A24’s Texas Chain Saw Massacre-meets-porn throwback, an aspiring French New Wave-loving filmmaker explains to his prudish (for now) boom mic operator girlfriend why he’s interested in shooting an “adult feature.” He’s part of the sweaty drive from Houston to a farmhouse in middle-of-nowhere Texas because he wants to prove that it’s “possible to make a good dirty movie.”

This weekend, we got two of them. It’s about time.

X is director Ti West’s first movie since 2016’s In a Valley of Violence, and best movie since 2009’s The House of the Devil, a deliberate homage to the horror films of the 1970s and 1980s. X, with its grindhouse delights, also feels like it’s from a different era: it’s grainy, grisly, and most of all, sexy in a way that you rarely get nowadays in a wide-release movie (2,865 screens with an impressive $4.4 million opening weekend).

I’m not trying to go all “back in my day” on you (mostly because “my day” was, like American Pie and Eurotrip), but I feel the same way as Steven Soderbergh when it comes to the superhero movies that have dominated Hollywood for the past 15 years: “Nobody’s f*cking!” Contemporary blockbusters are largely sex-less affairs with the occasional outlier, like every time Robert Pattinson and Zoe Kravitz share the screen in The Batman; meanwhile, everybody’s f*cking in X. There’s boobs and butts, and because it’s the 1970s, probably another b-word that rhymes with “tush,” although we don’t see any of those. X is “only” rated R, after all.

Another R-rated feature that was released this weekend was Deep Water, the long-delayed “mid-budget adult sex thriller” from director Adrian Lyne starring former real-life lovebirds Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas. In his review, our own Mike Ryan wrote, “To the point that Deep Water makes no sense, it’s impossible to make heads or tails out of character motivations, and there’s no real resolution or payoff to anything, yet I enjoyed this trashy dumb thing more than I ever thought I would.” I couldn’t agree more.

Whether it’s Ben Affleck in Gone Girl-mode repeatedly saying “the snails are not for eating” (add a “clapping hands” emoji between every word for maximum effect) and looking uncomfortable on a bicycle, or Ana de Armas having her own “Zou Bisou Bisou” moment and picking a pubic hair out of her mouth, Deep Water is a sleazy blast. I only wish it had been released not on Hulu, but in theaters like X: the off-the-charts camp levels are more fun in a communal setting. If there isn’t already a Deep Water drinking game, there needs to be one. “Take a shot every time Ben Affleck looks sad while staring at Ana de Armas flirting with another dude.” You’d be drunk in 20 minutes.

X and Deep Water couldn’t have less to do with each other (one’s an old-school slasher; the other has a little girl driving her mom crazy because she won’t stop playing “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” on the Alexa — guess which is which!), other than they’re both fun, sexy times. We’re already in the golden age of phallic shenanigans… maybe sleaze is making a comeback, too? That’s the vibe shift we all need.