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'MaXXXine' Review: A Stylish and Gory Yet Messy Hollywood Tale

By Jack Ransom July 7, 2024
“You’re a fucking movie star.”

The double hit of X and Pearl one after the other swiftly lit the horror scene up in a blaze of praise and delivered now instantly recognisable moments within the genre (with Pearl’s chilling, painful and tear drenched end credits grin being the most notable). X grew on me on a repeat viewing and Pearl was a winner on the first, which certainly built up anticipation for the next part of Maxine’s quest for stardom.


The third instalment of Ti West’s X series of films. MaXXXine is set in 1980s Hollywood, and follows adult film star and aspiring actress Maxine Minx (Mia Goth) as she finally gets her big break. But as a mysterious killer stalks the starlets of Hollywood, a trail of blood threatens to reveal her sinister past.


MaXXXine ticks off many favourable checkpoints for me: its period setting (the 80’s vibes are sleazily palpable), the fact its set within the film industry (both from a film-within-a-film perspective to the frequent visits to the video nasty and XXX filled video store) and the abundantly clear Giallo influences (fans of Argento & Bava will take joy in the killer’s iconography and victim dispatching). All of these elements provide a consistently immersive, rollicking and grindhouse tinged pulp to the proceedings.


Narratively speaking the film isn’t quite as strong as its style. Maxine’s fierce drive and swagger latch you in to her relentless pursuit for glory and the scenes with her and her deadpan, stony yet mysterious genre director Elizabeth (Elizabeth Debicki) as they begin the shooting process of The Puritan II. Unfortunately the other plot threads aren’t as tight, the panic surrounding the ‘Night Stalker’ honestly feels like an afterthought, Kevin Bacon’s creepy, leery, sneaky P.I. John Labat ‘s motivations are never really clear and the finale wraps up far too haphazardly.

Stylistically MaXXXine is pulsing with the energy of its time setting and location. The lashings of neon and dangerous unpredictability of the nightlife are intensely bold yet fittingly grimy and the Hollywood studio backlot (including an appearance from the Bates Motel) is authentically crafted. Gorehounds will be satisfied with the suitably grisly, splattery and brutal practical demises on display and one particular shudder inducing scene that can be best described as testicular trauma.


Performance-wise, Mia Goth once again owns the screen as the seductive, cocky, persistent and talented Maxine Minx. This time around she does get to flex more of a subdued and fearful energy as she processes the events from X and the increasing body count surrounding her. Elizabeth Debicki’s dry-witted, sharp tongued and subtlety intimidating director role is a standout. Kevin Bacon is clearly relishing donning a Chinatown style getup and hamming it up with gravelly heavy accented vocals. It’s refreshing to see Giancarlo Esposito having fun not playing a ruthless drug dealer and/or businessman and Lily Collins, Bobby Cannavalle and Michelle Monaghan leave an impression in their smaller supporting roles.

MaXXXine is a stylish, gory, slick, gratuitous yet narratively messy time. It may not be as focused as its predecessors and does suffer from a few to many plot threads. However, it’s brazenly cool attitude, homages and tributes aplenty, bursts of twisted splatter and enthusiastic performances make MaXXXine a solid trilogy capper.

Star Rating

Rating MaXXXine

MaXXXine is out now in cinemas


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