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average rating is 3 out of 5


Hope Madden


Posted on:

Jul 4, 2024

Film Reviews
Directed by:
Ti West
Written by:
Ti West
Mia Goth, Kevin Bacon, Elizabeth Debicki

Mia Goth and Ti West had both existed successfully separately in moviedom for years, West having become an indie horror filmmaking darling with his third feature, 2009’s The House of the Devil. Goth’s unique beauty and malleable ennui made her a showstopper as early as her 2013 feature debut, Nymphomaniac: Vol. II.


But, appropriately enough, it was with their collaboration that they both became stars.


Their 2022 feature X delivered a magnificent mashup of Boogie Nights and A Texas Chain Saw Massacre, a late Seventies grindhouse ode with style for miles. Easily the best film of West’s career, it was followed quickly with a prequel, the absolute lunatic genius of 2023’s Pearl.


If X articulated just how much skill West brought to a feature, Pearl declared Goth a talent to be reckoned with. She deserved an Oscar nomination. She was breathtaking.


And so, obviously, horror fans have been giddy since the trailer for the third film in the trilogy, Maxxxine, dropped. We circle back to Goth’s X character some years since the incident in Texas. A popular porn star, Maxine Minx is about to make the leap to legit films with a starring turn in a horror sequel.


The popularity of West’s series means a boost in both budget and cast. Elizabeth Debicki, Kevin Bacon, Giancarlo Esposito, Halsey, Michelle Monaghan and Bobby Cannavale class up the ensemble this go-round in a film that feels more apiece with late 70s/early 80s urban thrillers a la Eyes Of Laura Mars.


As warnings about California’s “Night Stalker” plead with women to be careful, Maxine asserts her ability to take care of herself, even as it becomes clear that she is being stalked. Maxine’s director (Debicki) warns her to eliminate the distractions in life, and Maxine makes a promise to do just that.


Okay, then, here we go!


But though blood does flow around West’s pastiche of 80s pop and fashion, nothing here pops like the uniquely stylized timestamps that helped make the first two horrors so memorable. Much of the film begins to feel like a series of setups in search of that elusive, satisfying payoff.


There’s no doubt Goth still commands attention, but West’s foray into the 80s seems less edgy, less ambitious, and just less horrific. The comments on fame and excess become broadly generic, and somehow Maxine herself becomes a little less interesting.


On its own, the film fits nicely into the role of a competent urban thriller. But when cast as the final piece of a potentially iconic horror trilogy, MaXXXine ends up limping to the finish.


Rated R for gratuitous use of shoulder pads.

About the Film Critic
Hope Madden
Hope Madden
Theatrical Release
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