MaXXXine Review (A Second Opinion)

Ti West’s MaXXXine is dividing critics, including our own, so here’s a second opnion on the neon-drenched horror flick.

MaXXXine Review (A Second Opinion)

Check out our other MaXXXine review here!

PLOT: In 1980s Hollywood, adult film star and aspiring actress Maxine Minx finally gets her big break. But as a mysterious killer stalks the starlets of Hollywood, a trail of blood threatens to reveal her sinister past.

REVIEW: I think I was one of only a handful of people left unimpressed by Ti West‘s double feature of X and Pearl. I was impressed by the scheduling and secrecy elements of production but I just couldn’t connect to the story itself. Each felt like a shallow experience, lacking in any true direction, and devoid of interesting characters. I consider myself a fair man, so when the trilogy capper was announced, I knew I’d be giving it a shot. So when I tell you that not only did I enjoy this film, I absolutely loved it: there’s a lot of baggage attached to that statement.

Maxxxine follows after the events of X (and its prequel Pearl) by following aspiring actress Maxine Minx in her quest for Hollywood stardom. All the while, a mysterious killer known as the Night Stalker is murdering young women in the city. Taking the visual style of a Maniac Cop or a Dressed to Kill, there’s a phenomenal 80s aesthetic that permeates every frame. The heavy grain and neon lights will put any older fan in a place of pure nostalgia. Then add in the studio backlots and run-down video store and any self-respecting movie fan will be batting off endorphin hits. Sure, there are silly inclusions like the Psycho house, but it works for the 80s Hollywood vibe. But there’s also a campiness in its sound design that blends with the LA setting to perfection.

Kevin Bacon and MIa Goth in MaXXXine (2024).

This is where I’m going to lose some people: I never really understood the intense adoration for Mia Goth‘s performances in the prior films. Yes, saying a bunch of lines without breaking can be impressive but if I don’t find the words being said believable than what’s the point? Goth in MaXXXine is what I’ve always wanted from this character: a bit of pathos and actually having struggles. And she delivers an utterly fantastic monologue which I think far eclipses her prior work. Kevin Bacon is an absolute scene stealer as Private Investigator John Labat. His sliminess oozes through the screen and is a great counterbalance to some of the more serious things happening. He always takes these villainous roles and gives them such a detestable side. I wanted more of him but at least his character sendoff is worthy of his reputation.

I was surprised at how layered nearly every side character felt. From Bobby Cannavale to Halsey, each person breathes fully in this lived-in world. And it’s also always great to see genre staple Larry Fessenden in a small part. The kills in MaXXXine aren’t overly abundant but they make their presence known. From crushed testicles to a completely crushed car, this is not for the squishily squeamish types. There’s a practicability to all of the effects that satiate even the most rabid of gorehounds. We need to celebrate when CGI isn’t over every frame of a death scene. Tyler Bates delivers a score that fits this film comfortably between other slashers and thrillers of the 80s.

Mia Goth and Halsey in MaXXXine (2024).

I still feel that West struggles with exposition, delivering it in often very clunky ways. At one point, something is very clearly revealed in the first act yet no character acknowledges it till closer to act three. It makes Maxine seem like a bit of a dummy that it took her so long to come to a very obvious conclusion. But outside of a few instances, I’d say this is the best-written of the entire trilogy. X and Pearl are filled with caricatures but MaXXXine finally provides us with some fleshed-out human beings. Even Moses Sumney’s Leon feels more lived in than any of the porn star cast of X. Sorry, I’m not trying to constantly bash the other films but it’s hard not to constantly compare the three films when they’re each so drastically different yet expected to carry through a narrative.

And those that haven’t seen the first two shouldn’t be dismayed. This could easily be seen on its own and completely stands up. However, since this is the trilogy capper, you’re going to get a little more from knowing the context that the rest of the series gives. I’ve seen some people upset with the direction this going in the third act but I think it’s been perfectly set up by the ending of X. I always love these “evil masked by good” stories and this manages to recreate 1985 in a believable way. Goth and Bacon are absolute highlights with some of the best gore gags of the year. So if you’re down for a film that feels of the era and is a great character piece for Goth, then you’re going to love watching her be a fucking star.


A poster has been unveiled for MaXXXine, the Ti West / Mia Goth follow-up to X and Pearl, and it sports a warning about Hollywood


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