Why ‘MaXXXine’ Lives Down to Its Seedy Roots

Director Ti West's twisted trilogy wraps with disappointing final chapter

Director Ti West and Mia Goth proved the perfect horror movie combo with “X” and “Pearl.”

West’s retro vision wouldn’t work without someone as committed as Goth in front of the camera. She proved that in the first two films of his genre trilogy, with “Pearl” giving Goth the tour de force platform actresses crave.

And she crushed it.

Yet “MaXXXine,” the third and presumably final film in West’s series, ends the saga on a lackluster note. It’s alternately preachy and gross, the latter coming without the tension to make the gore worthwhile.

For every good scene there’s a clunker, turning this ’80s flashback into a frustrating affair.

MaXXXine | Official Trailer 2 HD | A24

Maxine Minx (Goth) is ready for her closeup. No, not another porn shoot but a bonafide movie. OK, it’s a cheap horror sequel, but the film’s director (Elizabeth Debecki) wants to turn a “B-movie” into something better.

The film in question is “The Puritan 2,” and it’s already got Moral Majority types picketing on-set. Is West commenting on Cancel Culture via its previous, less powerful incarnation?

Maxine doesn’t care. She’s finally on the road to stardom, but two sizable threats stand in her way. The Night Stalker is murdering beautiful young women in the greater Hollywood area, and Goth could be a target. She’s also being harassed by a sleazy private detective (Kevin Bacon, stealing the movie) who knows what went down in “X.”

“MaXXXine” has it all – ’80s accouterments, slasher kills, social commentary and a crisp cast. Bobby Cannavale and Michelle Monaghan play detectives who think Maxine is connected to the recent slayings.

West recreates seedy, Reagan-era L.A. with all the attention to detail you need.

So where’s the problem?

Let’s start with Maxine. She’s never been less relatable or compelling. Yes, she’s a damaged soul hell bent on fame, but in “X” those qualities proved problematic yet endearing. Here, the script gives us little reason to rally behind her inner drive.

When she shows up late on set and threatens to lose the gig her face is passive, almost resigned to what happens next.


Goth’s character can fight back with the best of ’em, but those sequences feel like 2024 empowerment rants more than organic rage.


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Cannavale and Monaghan offer another anachronistic blind spot. His toxic masculinity shtick isn’t working, and she repeatedly calls him out on it in ways that feel … wait for it … woke. West is a better screenwriter than that, even on a bad day.

Debecki’s director also sounds like a thoroughly 2024 character. Her chats with Maxine address gender inequalities from a modern-day lens. Yes, the era routinely exploited women, a scenario better depicted by what happens at the end of Maxine’s big audition.

She’s asked to take off her top in such a nonchalant way that it speaks volumes.

Show, don’t tell!

The various storylines don’t bring enough grit to the story. The screws should be tightening around Maxine’s best chance at fame, but there’s little sense of urgency.

Yet there’s always another brisk supporting character to right the genre ship. Giancarlo Esposito plays Maxine’s lawyer under a silly wig, and his solutions prove gritty and great. Bacon’s escalating tactics deliver some bleak humor, and the actor knows precisely how to modulate his threat level.

And there’s something satisfying about an industry that both rejects porn as a viable path yet every other person recognizes Maxine from her “body” of work.

Again, very smart.

MaXXXine Exclusive Movie Clip - Buster (2024)

The third act ties the trilogy together while echoing its weakest themes. We’ll say no more, but know it’s the least subversive path West and co. could have taken.

Sigh. Our heroine deserves better. So does a genre series with two very good parts.

HiT or Miss: “MaXXXine” puts a bloody bow on Ti West’s horror trilogy, but it remains the weakest of the three films.

One Comment

  1. “Come watch our movie with s*x and violence! We desperately need the money! We won’t tell you about the preaching. You be you (unless you’re male).”

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