MaXXXine Review

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Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

The “X” franchise gets its trilogy capper in “MaXXXine”, a clever thriller that continues to distinguish this series within the horror genre. Maxine Minx has moved to Hollywood in hopes of becoming a famous movie star. She is cast in a horror film, given an opportunity to leave the adult film genre. But when a mysterious killer begins leaving a trail of blood, Maxine realizes this may be personal. Can she figure out who this mysterious figure is and protect her image as her career hangs in the balance?

Positives:

As I always say, I love when a movie surprises me. I didn’t take to “X” and “Pearl” the same way most horror fans did but I respected them for being ambitious. It’s hard to deny Mia Goth’s talent in the role. She is clearly committed to carving out a distinct personality for Maxine, giving her another fresh story here. “X” felt like the experimental and stylish slasher, while “Pearl” was a period piece and character study. “MaXXXine” pivots genres again, this time crafting an intriguing mystery. It blends slasher elements with a style doused in 80’s inspiration. I was impressed with director Ti West’s attention to detail with the times. This film feels the most stylishly distinct of the three, and for me…is the most immersive. The costume design, hair/makeup, and feeling of LA pop right off the screen. Credit to West and his team for creating such a distinct atmosphere. 

“MaXXXine” also features the most impressive cast of the bunch. Outside of Mia Goth’s solid performance, Kevin Bacon, Giancarlo Esposito, Michelle Monaghan and Bobby Cannavale all pop up in great supporting roles. They are utilized sparingly enough to give Goth the spotlight but also feel integral to the story. I also enjoyed the mystery aspect. We see Maxine overcoming the hurdles she faced in becoming a star, but now has to protect the opportunity she has. Elizabeth Debicki also has a good presence as Maxine’s director, providing an intense but respectful demeanor towards the opportunity in front of her. For better or worse, this is the most accessible film in the franchise. I believe “X” and “Pearl” are quite niche, mainly appealing to indie horror communities. “MaXXXine” feels more tangible to general audiences looking for a fresh story and stylish journey to the 80s. I can see audiences preferring the other two not liking this one as much, but the film finally got me on board with the “X” franchise. This series and the rankings people have will be all over the place. I love that! Credit to Ti West for doing something different in each story and keeping it fresh for fans. 

Negatives: 

“MaXXXine” was almost a home run, but there are a few issues in the third act that felt underwhelming. The first two thirds of the film were so impressive that I was ready to call this one of my favorite films of the year. It still might be…but I really wish the third act wrapped up in a better way. The reveal of the killer might be obvious to some, breaking the intrigue built in the mystery. I also thought it got too theatrical based on the tameness of the rest of the story. It almost felt like the third act was a completely different story. I think the ideas wrap up in a respectable fashion, but if the events following the reveal played out differently this would have been a slasher masterpiece. 

Conclusion:

Ti West’s third film in the “X” franchise is a winner! I really enjoyed the aesthetic as it oozed a glitzy 80’s style. The cast give terrific performances and the story concludes Maxine’s journey to fame in a satisfying way. While the third act is a mixed bag, the rest of the film is top notch. Fans of the franchise should enjoy the film even if it’s not their favorite of the series. For my personal preference, “MaXXXine” finally hits the right notes and is the best film in the franchise. If Ti West does explore the alleged fourth film he’s teased, I’ll certainly go see it.