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X Ending Explained: Exploring The Bloody Secrets Of Ti West’s Porno Slasher

Mia Goth holding a finger to her lips in X.
(Image credit: Christopher Moss)

Warning: spoilers for X’s ending are in play. If you want to enjoy this beautiful and bloody spectacle as fresh as possible, head out to the safety of another piece of coverage at CinemaBlend. 

A wild ride into the world of adult filmmaking, romance, and the darkness in all of our hearts, writer/director Ti West’s X is something that truly needs to be seen to be believed. However, there’s still a lot to discuss by time this deliberately paced horror flick starts to roll its credits. There’s a reason that this movie has inspired critics to sing its praises.

Through the clever unfolding of its plot, the past, present, and future of this fictional universe have the potential to please the fans that X is about to win over. Which is why I need to warn you yet again, if you haven’t seen this film yet, you’re probably going to want to turn back. If you really want to know more, without spoiling the gory details, head to our official review. From this point forward, it’s time to discuss the ending of X, and dig into all of the dirty secrets that are revealed as a result.

James Gaylyn and Matthew J. Saville investigating a bloody crime scene in X.

(Image credit: A24)

What Happened At The End Of X?

What was supposed to be the uneventful shoot of The Farmer’s Daughters turned into a bloodbath in the name of love and lust. One by one, Pearl (Mia Goth) and Howard (Stephen Ure) pick off the unsuspecting guests on their farm, until only one is left: Maxine Minx (Mia Goth). With Pearl taking a shine to Maxine, the plan at the center of X was to keep her in their basement, so that she could fulfill the older woman’s sexual desires.

Of course, Maxine wasn’t going to go out without a fight. With Howard dying due to a surprise heart attack, and Pearl knocked to the ground, our young starlet is ready to escape. As the old woman taunts her that, in time, she too will find herself regretting the loss of her youth, Maxine ensures her survival by running over Pearl’s head with the pickup truck she steals as a getaway vehicle.

By the time X ends, the film winds back to the events it flashed forward to in its beginning. As local law enforcement show up to Pearl and Howard’s ranch, they discover the bodies left behind after the previous night’s slaughter, as well as one additional body we’ll talk about in a moment. They also stumble upon the filming equipment left by the porno shoot, with Sheriff Dentler (James Gaylyn) presuming “one goddamned, fucked up horror picture” to be contained on the unknown film. 

Mia Goth looking over a dead body holding a pitchfork in X.

(Image credit: A24)

The Truth About Pearl And Howard’s Relationship

If you thought the ending of X was wild, wait until we unpack all of the secrets that built up to this grand finale. One such plot thread is the truth about the nature of Pearl and Howard’s relationship, which is very atypical from what you’d expect in a slasher such as this. As it turns out, our older couple isn’t killing because they disapprove of the sexual activity taking place on their farm; but rather, they want in on it. 

More specifically, Pearl wants someone to sleep with her, as it’s presumed that Howard’s heart is so weak that the sexual act would kill him. It’s what’s led the couple to kidnapping people and keeping them in their cellar, and it’s what started the murder fest too. Strangely enough, Pearl and Howard do end up having sex, and he lives through it! Though not for long, as that surprise heart attack he suffers towards the end of X may have been the ultimate result. 

Mia Goth looking over her shoulder in front of a makeup mirror in X.

(Image credit: Christopher Moss)

Maxine Minx’s Surprise Secret

Maxine Minx has her own secret that she’s been hiding throughout the events of X. Even her manager/boyfriend Wayne (Martin Henderson) doesn’t seem to know that Maxine has escaped from a life that she felt was less than she deserved. As it turns out, she’s a runaway who left home in order to chase her porn stardom dreams. What Maxine is running from is even more of a surprise, which lands squarely in the film's final moments.

Throughout X, we’re treated to snippets of a sermon from an unnamed televangelist (Simon Prast). Presumably, this is meant to inform the audience of a deeply religious presence that might influence the people of this sleepy farm to be rather judgmental. Rather, as we see at the very end of these sermons, those broadcasts were a red herring with a shocking reveal at the end: Maxine is the daughter of this televangelist.

Owen Campbell, Brittany Snow, Mia Goth, Scott Mescudi, and Jenna Ortega carry equipment through a field in X.

(Image credit: a24)

X’s Victims, And How They Went Out

As you can see, X has some deep examinations into the themes of aging, romance, and sexual liberation. However, this is also a slasher movie, and what good would it be if there wasn’t a massive bloodletting? Starting with Pearl’s first kill of the night, let’s discuss how everyone died throughout the rollercoaster ride that ensued.

Poor RJ was our first victim, as his rejection of Pearl’s advances caused her to creatively plunge a knife into him several times. Not too long after that, Wayne started looking for RJ, and he met his end through a pitchfork to the face in the barn. “Sometimes” lovers/co-stars Bobbie-Lynne (Brittany Snow) and Jackson Hole (Scott Mescudi) are murdered separately, with Bobbie being fed to a gator by Pearl and Jackson being shot at point blank range by Howard, with a shotgun.

Just when you think you’ve figured out that the captive Lorraine (Jenna Ortega) is going to survive the night with Maxine, one last surprise kill takes her out. As she sprints from the farmhouse in the name of escape, Howard takes our poor church mouse down with his boomstick, and removes half of her face in the process. Maxine is our last woman standing, ready to escape to wherever her life takes her next.  

Pearl sits in bed with Maxine in X.

(Image credit: a24)

What Next For The X Saga?

Believe it or not, Ti West already has a trilogy planned around X’s tale of systematic killing and sexual fulfillment. After the film premiered at SXSW, the crowd present was shown a trailer for Pearl, the secret prequel that was filmed back to back with its thematic successor. Diving back into the past of Pearl’s youth, we’re about to see how she and her husband wound up becoming the people they are now. 

That prequel is currently in post-production, with Mia Goth reprising her role as Pearl, minus all the old age makeup. Meanwhile, West is currently writing the sequel that will take place after X’s fateful events. In an interview with IndieWire, Ti West revealed the following details about the future forward installment, as well as the nature of the entire trilogy on the whole: 

If X is about the way this auteurist era of independent filmmaking is affecting people, Pearl is sort of about the old Hollywood way that affected people. The way in which they enrich each other is all a part of the craft of the filmmaking. … [The sequel] will be about how home video has affected people. I’m very proud of these. They’re super different and very out-of-nowhere. You won’t need to see one to see the other but they do complement each other.

The future couldn’t be brighter for Ti West and his trilogy of films about filmmaking, which might give even 2021’s best horror films a run for their money. X is just the start of what’s to come, and if you’ve somehow read this entire ending breakdown without seeing it, that’s ok. This is a ride still worth taking, and you can do so by heading to a theater near you, and getting in on the fun. 

While we don’t know when Pearl will be arriving, you can keep an eye out on our upcoming horror movies schedule for further information. Also, if you think missing out on anything headed to a theater near you is the greatest horror of all, check out our full list of 2022 movie releases

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.