Maxxxine

Ti West’s 1970’s slasher film “X” came out on March 18, 2022 and caught us all by surprise. It
offered a fresh spin with themes of stardom, beauty, aging, and self-worth. He then shocked us
when he announced the prequel “Pearl” was already complete and would be released on
September 16, 2022. This film allowed Mia Goth to reprise her role as the title character whose
feverent aspiration to become a movie star led her to commit the terrible and violent acts
against her family on her Texas homestead in 1918, and later against a film crew in 1979. Now
in July 2024, West and Goth have returned to give us the final film in their trilogy with
MaXXXine.

Now set in 1985, the film finds Maxine Minx who has gained fame as an adult actress,
auditioning for the low budget occult/horror thriller “The Puritan 2” which she feels will launch
her into the Hollywood fame she deserves. The opening shot of Hollywood soundstage doors
echoes the farm doors opening shot of “X”, which itself is an echo of “The Searchers.” Mia Goth
in her audition for director Elizabeth Bender (Elizabeth Debicki) really shines and shows what a
tremendous actress she is. Unfortunately, she will only get a few more chances to really show
what she can bring to the film. But all is not well in Maxine’s rise to stardom: There’s a serial
killer all over the news, the Night Stalker, and pieces of Maxine’s past start to show up at her
door, along with a mysterious figure cloaked in leather, whose gloved hands can barely
withhold a boiling rage. Maxine’s past is coming back to stalk her and she’s going to have to
fight to survive and climb the Hollywood ladder.

Mia Goth is the titular star, but the supporting cast is stacked as well. Kevin Bacon plays a
deliciously sleazy private investigator from New Orleans who has been hired to track down
Maxine for his rich and powerful employer. Giancarlo Esposito with a tremendous wig plays
Teddy Knight, Maxine’s agent.

The film absolutely oozes its 1980’s aesthetic with pitch perfect costuming, makeup, West’s
choice of camera lenses and movement, all set to a synthetic score mixed with deep cuts from
the 1985’s music library. For the first two acts, MaXXXine is a fun and interesting spin on 1980’s
horror. With scenes literally set on the Universal backlot and individuals protesting the studio
during the height of the Satanic panic, West really establishes the dark side of Hollywood.

Unfortunately, the film never really takes any chances to subvert the expectations of the
audience and instead the plot unrolls exactly as you expect. Even though the film wasn’t
surprising me, I was along for the ride until late into the third act. In “X” and much of
“MaXXXine” the title character takes control of her fate and her mantra of “I will not accept a
life I don’t deserve” gives her a streak of steel that makes her a force of nature. In the climatic
showdown with the leather-clad stalker, she is sidelined and more of a spectator for the big
showdown. I wanted Maxine to really rise and control the situation, much like she did with the
Buster Keaton impersonator who tried to attack her earlier in the film. Instead, much of that is
given to the two police detectives played by Michelle Monaghan and Bobby Cannavale. I know
that’s how many 80’s horror films were and West is paying homage to the films that inspired him, but it weakens the character work already done, and doesn’t give Goth the big moment
she deserves.


I would say “Pearl” is the better film, but “MaXXXine” is the most fun of the trilogy. This film
doesn’t quite stick the landing, but it continues to show that Mia Goth much like Maxine Minx,
is a force of nature and a true Hollywood star. It’s an entertaining horror film with great
production values, and never overstays its welcome with a relatively short run time of 101
minutes.


Grade: B

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