MaXXXine Review

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Even when a scream queen achieves “final girl” status, they don’t always make it out of the sequel alive. There are exceptions like Sidney Prescott and Laurie Strode (depending on which continuity we’re going by). We all know that Maxine Minx (Mia Goth) was the sole survivor of X, although I won’t spoil whether or not she survives the cheekily titled MaXXXine. Let’s just say Goth and writer/director Ti West have created a character who will endure. The same goes for Pearl, who Goth portrayed as a homicidal old lady and a demented dreamer. MaXXXine further proves that Goth is a star, even if the film ranks third in this trilogy.

Leaving the gritty 70s in the past, Maxine has started a new life in Hollywood. The year is 1985, and Maxine is on the verge of getting her big break beyond the adult film world. Although Maxine beams with confidence, it’s hard not to feel intimidated in the presence of Elizabeth Debicki as an icy director. Maxine has bigger issues, as someone is blackmailing her for the Texas murders that occurred six years earlier. Serving as a middleman between Maxine and the blackmailer is Kevin Bacon as a sleazy PI named John Labat. Bacon always eats up villain roles and is criminally underrated as a comedic actor. He steals every scene he’s in, but nobody can steal the movie from Goth.

Maxine is a rare horror movie protagonist who’s, more often than not, in control of her story. Not only is she smart enough to get out of trouble, but she’s usually a step ahead of everyone else. Maxine teaches a thug early on that you never bring a switchblade to a gunfight. Many of the supporting players are also smarter than you would assume. This includes Giancarlo Esposito as Maxine’s agent, who sports the most obvious toupee of recent memory. Even two cops played by Bobby Cannavale and Michelle Monaghan are competent by horror standards.

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West turns in another visually alluring film, although the neon 80s aesthetic isn’t as striking as Pearl’s Technicolor madness. The narrative is where MaXXXine struggles compared to its predecessors. X started as a straight-forward slasher flicker, yet threw in a few twists that made it something special. Pearl remains the most unique entry and one of the genre’s more disturbing character studies. While it’s great seeing Goth as Maxine again, the film doesn’t reveal much about her that we didn’t know already. Much of the film is spent building up Maxine’s blackmailer, but the answer is somewhat underwhelming. Likewise, the bloodshed is lacking, only delivering two over-the-top moments that fans paid for.

For all of its shortcomings, MaXXXine is an admirable film carried on the backs of its star and a strong supporting cast. Lily Collins, Simon Prast, and Moses Sumney are some of the other names who make the most of their limited screen time. While they bring the X factor, you may question if this sequel needed to exist. MaXXXine touches upon many of the same themes from the previous films, although it doesn’t have as much to say about fame, aging, or the loss of innocence. It’s debatable if the film functions as a finale to a trilogy, but thanks to Goth, MaXXXine works well enough as a standalone Hollywood story.

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About Nick Spake

Nick Spake has been working as an entertainment writer for the past ten years, but he's been a lover of film ever since seeing the opening sequence of The Lion King. Movies are more than just escapism to Nick, they're a crucial part of our society that shape who we are. He now serves as the Features Editor at Flickreel and author of its regular column, 'Nick Flicks'.

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