Movie Review: ‘MaXXXine’

by | Jul 5, 2024 | Featured Post, Movie Reviews, Movies | 0 comments

Review by James Lindorf

“MaXXXine” is the third, and potentially final, entry in Ti West’s series of horror films that began in 2022 with “X” and “Pearl.” West and star Mia Goth continue their exploration of morality, psychosis, and the quest for stardom to a series best effect. “MaXXXine” opens around the country on July 5th.

Having already explored a young woman’s descent into madness during the 1910s Decade of tumult in “Pearl” and another woman’s refusal to accept the hand she was dealt during the Me Decade, we have finally arrived at the 1980s, the Decade of Decadence. It has been six years since a group went out to a cabin in the woods to film a porno, and Maxine Minx has become the adult film star and sex symbol she said she would be. Though Maxine has a nice apartment and a new Mercedes SL convertible, she is nearing her 33rd birthday and has yet to achieve the Brooke Shields level of fame she “deserves.” In pursuit of that quest, Maxine is eager to go legit and gets the chance after nailing an audition for the fearsome British director determined to be an auteur, Liz Bender (Elizabeth Debicki). The downside of fame during the era of satanic panic is that it draws all kinds of unwanted attention. Most notably that of the Moral Majority inspired group who protest Bender’s film from outside the studio gates and the Night Stalker, a serial killer leaving a trail of mutilated corpses all around town.

Continuing to show respect for the era each film has been set in, “MaXXXine” opens up with a great 80s soundtrack and stylized credits. West also embraced the big hair, synthesizers, Occult elements, and production styles that permeated so many horror films of that Decade. The film still has a modern twist because there have been 40 years of growth in the skill of filmmakers that can’t be hidden, which puts it on par with the most technically savvy films of the whole Decade. With an accurate setting, West is only two elements, cast, and story, away from creating a perfect movie.

The cast may not be studded with stars, but it is full of talent. Of course, Mia Goth is back as the star, and while “MaXXXine” doesn’t demand anything as involved as a 7+ minute monologue, she still excels as the tormented starlet. Also working the seeder side of the film industry are Chloe Farnworth and Halsey, who are the party girl counterparts to the driven Maxine. Helping her pursue her dream is her agent, Teddy Night (Giancarlo Esposito), who is as loyal as he is ruthless. When people in her life start disappearing, police detectives (Michelle Monaghan and Bobby Cannavale) start butting into Maxine’s life, putting the secretive woman on high alert. While the cops are unwanted, the most significant intrusion in her life comes from Louisiana private detective John Labat, played by 80s legend Kevin Bacon. Labat is a dangerous mix of intelligent, devious, and shameless. For the right price, he will do whatever is asked of him by his mysterious benefactor, who just may be the infamous Night Stalker. Not everyone turns in their best performance, especially during the climax, where some actors are more caricatures than well-rounded characters. Still, overall, the cast is a success, leaving perfection riding on the story.

Many people subscribe to the idea that horror movies should be about 90 minutes, but West must believe that 105 minutes is the ideal runtime. But conforming to an idea like this ignores the fact that there are films that belong on each side of the average. This runtime worked well in “X” because it is more than just a basic slasher; it needed the extra 15 minutes to breathe and change. While 105 minutes was too long for “Pearl” and its straightforward story of insanity that left me watching the clock. This time around, West found himself with a film that needed to be on the longer side of the average. The framework for “MaXXXine” is excellent, but because there isn’t the proper spacing, the picture is deformed, folding over itself and hiding essential details. Everything on screen is entertaining; it just happens at warp speed. What should be this tension-filled mystery slowly unraveling throughout the film could have been over in 30 minutes as the key to everything is just handed to Maxine, and everything else that happens is because of her ego. If West could have committed an extra 15 minutes, the story could have moved from good to great, making the film an all-time horror classic.

Instead of a great film, we received a good, entertaining, and technically sound movie. It is a solid closure to the series, offering the most rewatchability of the three films with its satirical take on Hollywood and examination of true and hypocritical morality, even if it is not quite as successful as “X.” “MaXXXine” is a star, but she doesn’t shine as brightly as any of us would have hoped, and she earns a 4 out of 5 from me.

Genre: Horror, Mystery & Thriller
Rating: R (Strong Violence|Graphic Nudity|Gore|Drug Use|Language|Sexual Content)
Original Language: English
Director: Ti West
Screenwriter: Ti West
Producers: Jacob Jaffke, Ti West, Kevin Turen, Harrison Kreiss, Mia Goth
Production Companies: Access Entertainment, Motel Mojave
Distributor: A24
Release Date: July 5th, 2024
Runtime: 1h 41m