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‘MaXXXine’ review: Dir. Ti West (2024)

MaXXXine arrives in UK cinemas from 5th July 2024.

In 2022, writer and director Ti West’s X was a surprise hit. Set in 1979, X told the story of aspiring star, Maxine Minx (Mia Goth), who along with her friends, is stalked and attacked by an old lady – Pearl (also played by Goth) – with Maxine the final girl standing. After taking the story down the prequel route for Pearl, which delved into the past of the murderous titular character, MaXXXine continues the saga of Ms. Minx. This time the setting shifts from the 70s to 1985, and the rural and remote farmland to the hustle and bustle of the Los Angeles night-life. 

In the six years since the events of X, Maxine has continued to pursue her dreams of stardom and has made a name for herself with the world of adult film. Sadly though, being a star in pornography is nowhere near the same as being one in Hollywood. Driven by her desire to find the life that she deserves, she auditions for, and gets, the lead in the horror sequel, The Puritan II.’ Maxine’s joy is cut short however, when both her past begins to catch up to her, and those around her fall prey to a serial killer who may, or may not be, the infamous Night Stalker. 

Whereas X borrowed influence from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Pearl took from The Wizard of Oz, MaXXXine switches things up again. This time West embraces elements of Giallo, The Black Dahlia, and the occult to create a film that both compliments what has come before, but still remains its own entity. Visually, West keeps MaXXXine authentic to the 80s era, going so far as to shoot only on camera technology which was available at the time. This ensures that MaXXXine has that grainy, hazy look that the 80s was renowned for. The Los Angeles setting is captured beautifully, from its sun-soaked vapid picture lots to the neon, grimy seedy streets after dark, West, and cinematographer Eliot Rockett, have worked tirelessly to create a movie that feels of the era and the end result is a sultry and dirty delight. 

Whilst the production design, cinematography, costuming, and make-up all expertly recreate the style of the 80s, it is the soundtrack that cements MaXXXine as from the decade. Opening with ZZ Top’s ‘Gimme All Your Lovin’, and featuring Frankie Goes to Hollywood, John Parr, Kim Carnes, and Animotion, this soundtrack couldn’t be more authentically 80s. The opening ZZ Top montage expertly sets the scene as the camera follows Maxine in full strut mode. It immediately captures that sense of sexual empowerment whilst asserting itself as aggressively eighties. 

Goth is once more at the top of her game. Right from Maxine’s opening audition she has the audience in the palm of her hand. As with Pearl, Maxine is a fascinating character to spend time with. Slasher sequels often find the final girl traumatised or seriously spooked by their ordeal, but not Maxine Minx. She is so driven by her determination to be a star that she has stuffed her past down into her deepest recesses. Even when confronted with it in MaXXXine, Minx remains icy cold. It’s a sound interpretation of a final girl and enables Maxine to not be a perpetual victim,  giving her an autonomy not afforded to many of her peers. As the title suggests, MaXXXine grants the audience more time with the titular character, as opposed to X, which was populated with several co-stars. This extra time is a godsend as Maxine is a fascinating creature and Goth clearly loves bringing this role to life. 

Also aboard MaXXXine is a plethora of well known faces including Lily Collins, Kevin Bacon (who is on Wild Things level comedic gold), Elizabeth Debicki, Halsey, Michelle Monaghan, and Giancarlo Esposito. These new additions help populate 80s Los Angeles perfectly. From hard-line bitch director, to starlet and questionable manager, West takes aim at a version of Hollywood not too far removed from modern times, and explores the hardships faced by those that attempt to succeed in it. Maxine’s drive to be famous is mirrored within those around her, though she might be the most desperate to succeed. In many ways MaXXXine is an exploration and exposé of the cult of Hollywood. It doesn’t quite go as hard as films such as Starry Eyes in this regard, but still offers the viewer plenty of food for thought. 

The cult of Hollywood isn’t the only cult to take the spotlight in MaXXXine. The news is saturated with suspicions and reports about The Night Stalker, a real-life serial killer who claimed the lives of fourteen people between 1984 and 1985. Just as with famous actors, high-profile killers and criminals have fans and followings, and the Night Stalker’s inclusion alone might bring in an entirely fresh audience for MaXXXine. Cults and sects of people removed from ‘normal’ society are a familiar motif of Ti West’s work, and in this way MaXXXine is potentially the most ‘West movie’ in the X trilogy. This is further confirmed with the use of found-footage style camera work, which although used only fleetingly in snippets, scream Ti West’s trademark style. 

A fitting end to a thoroughly enjoyable trilogy, MaXXXine is as different to its predecessors as they are to one another. The constant reinvention of West’s work is to be commended with each film working as both a standalone project, as well as a cohesive whole. Look deep enough and the threads that connect the trio of movies are abundantly clear, and yet those that have yet to delve in won’t feel as though they are missing integral information. Each film varying so much in tone and style not only opens up the potential audience for the series, but also ensures that there is at least one film for everyone. In this case, West might have saved the best entry to last, with MaXXXine a neon tinted Hollywood nightmare filled with ambition, cut-throat action, and an excellent depiction of the final girl.


Kat Hughes



Ti West’s X trilogy comes to an end with MaXXXine, a film that might just be one of the director’s most accomplished films yet. 


MaXXXine arrives in UK cinemas from 5th July 2024.

Kat Hughes is a UK born film critic and interviewer who has a passion for horror films. An editor for THN, Kat is also a Rotten Tomatoes Approved Critic. She has bylines with Ghouls Magazine, Arrow Video, Film Stories, Certified Forgotten and FILMHOUNDS and has had essays published in home entertainment releases by Vinegar Syndrome and Second Sight. When not writing about horror, Kat hosts micro podcast Movies with Mummy along with her five-year-old daughter.


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