MaXXXine (2024)

MaXXXine (2024)

2024 R 104 Minutes

Horror | Thriller | Mystery

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 he...

Overall Rating

7 / 10
Verdict: Good

User Review

  • d_riptide


    7 / 10
    Ti West’s “X” marked my official introduction to the beautiful yet….equally terrifying Mia Goth and needless to say, she quickly became a force to be reckoned with. After two damn solid films in X and Pearl, the trilogy looks to close out with “MaXXXine”. A solid closing to the trilogy but….man, do I feel measly frustrated.

    If there one constant about Ti West I can boast about; it’s that he is open to change. Every single film in this series he’s directed is radically different to accommodate for a certain filmmaking era change and the way he captures time and place reminds me of how Robert Eggers does his research; one fixed in hyper confidence.

    I will forever praise the painstaking recreation that goes into the set and production designs like this here, not just meticulously recreating and expanding the scope that’s key to evoking the spirit of the ’80s as a whole but its filmic output as well. So much of what we see is dripping in style as this visual and aural collage of this specific time period allows different people with different styles to capture it however they see fit. In contrast to, say, Quentin Tarantino’s method in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”, Ti West’s design and presentation hits the right notes of video glamour and performative flash concealing the ugliness lurking underneath with many Italian giallo elements to draw inspiration from.

    Although if you ask me, it doesn't utilise the intriguing backdrop of a city under siege by the real life Night Stalker anywhere near enough.

    Campy costumes match and mirror the aesthetic of the time period, it’s 104 minute runtime avoids becoming meandering despite what I’ll say about the final act, not every track of the music was a slam dunk for me but Tyler Bate’s score remained eclectic throughout paired alongside vibrant sound design and every single shot of the cinematography is a vibrant pastiche that works in stereo with the editing; muted neons, fuzzy VHS quality and heavy grain packing its own type of energy through every frame. And as expected, the coveted slasher elements are delivered in spades but backed up by gloriously visceral and gruesome kills and attacks.

    There’s no dispute all these actors hold their own regardless if the script gave them much to work with, even with dialogue that can be very, VERY blunt and on the nose. But they cannot hold a candle to bloody Mia Goth; the Judy Garland of Horror does it again. She wears steeliness and resilience like a badge of honor and it really cements her character as somewhat of a cipher for the spirit of the industry--all about ambition and surfaces, rocky past be damned.

    I got brief flashes and reminders of something this movie reminded me of but after a while, it became impossible to look at this narrative and NOT be reminded of Scream 3. Seriously, I’m not doing a grasping-at-straws argument to the contrary here; it really does remind me of Scream 3: You got a murderer plot here where a serial killer hunts a certain group of people close to or on the movie set that forces the protagonist out of hiding and forces them to confront the sins of their tragic past. And just like Scream 3, it wears this skin like it’s meant to be this grandiose bow to the numerous Hollywood set-exploitation films of the late 70’s and 80’s…..and it ALMOST WORKS. Comfortably cheesy and never taking itself too seriously, it’s not meant to be as propulsive as what came before but that comes with some caveats.

    “Late Night With the Devil” and “Love Lies Bleeding” give way and adhere to 70’s and 80’s excess through different formats to varying degrees of success; the former highlighted moral anxiety of the unraveling time period and the stressfully curated facade of organized chaos on television while the latter uses propulsive cartoonish 80’s surrealism to dissect what gives people power through a poisonous urge to become something bigger, even through love. Maxxxine’s morbid nosedive into the seedier, grimier reality of 80’s sleaziness reveals a giant cesspool of exploitation that increasingly gets more and more….empty as the film progresses. You’d think that’s where it’s going, that there’s always a price to pay to be famous and they do poke at the idea that being either a star or a monster is one and the same but really, it’s about performance and artifice. Despite being a trilogy about filmmaking, it’s played a lot with expectations, specifically how people tend to bend the world to their will, highlighting the handwringing of pop-culture as a destructive force to kickstart or rewrite their legacies but failing to live up to it.

    Speaking of expectations, there in lies the problem: the film practically boxes itself in, leaving it undercooked with somehow too much space and not enough at once.

    West’s ambition seems to outpace the films structure here more than his past entities, however, as a lot of his ideas either don’t run too deep or lack the tension to follow through with it. While I’m convinced the film feeling more and more empty and muted as it progresses is meant to be intentional to match that 80’s dinginess, I don’t know by how much.

    Not only does the atmosphere start to dwindle and fade the closer we get to the end, it feeds into the slight but lackluster third act: a very silly climax capped off by a predictable twist that gestures at so many points only to hand wave them away. Sure, if you were paying super close attention to “X”, you’d be able to pick out the twist just as quickly as I did but was it worth sacrificing all that momentum the first hour built up? Also, nowhere near suspenseful as before.

    I was not willing to accept a trilogy that I didn’t deserve and while MaXXXine doesn’t exquisitely plumb the emotional depths that X and "Pearl" did or make the most out of its respective time period to lead to an enthralling finale, too much work was put into this movie for it to not fall flat on its face. And this film manages to narrowly avoid doing just that.