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‘MaXXXine’ (review)

When X was released in 2022, it proved to be a playfully dark tale of lust and terror, subverting expectations that it would simply be another vapid Texas Chainsaw Massacre knock-off.

But that was not the only surprise associated with the film, as writer/director Ti West quickly announced that X would be followed by a prequel named Pearl, which would detail the younger years of the elderly and rather unusual lady featured in the first installment, before culminating in a third film named MaXXXine, which would center around the further exploits of the main adult entertainment character from X.

Throughout this trilogy, West’s collaboration with Mia Goth – the main performer of all three installments – has proved potent, as her incredible talent has been on display from start to finish, showcasing her immense range as an actor, and how she and West clearly enjoy a profound artistic relationship.

And MaXXXine is no exception.

Once again, Goth delivers a compelling performance that stands on its own compared to her previous efforts in the trilogy, and the third film is engaging to watch because of her acting alone.

As is par for the course for West’s filmmaking, the time period is incredibly well-established and well-realized, effectively bringing the seediness of 1985’s Los Angeles during the Night Stalker’s summer of terror to life in meticulous fashion.

Stylistically, MaXXXine draws on filmmaking elements reminiscent of West’s early effort The House of the Devil, however, it is still clear that the third installment of the Mia Goth-led trilogy has its own identity, as the zeitgeist of the time in terms of both general popular culture as well as the style of horror films at the time are also utilized to create West’s latest vision.

In terms of how MaXXXine holds up against the two previous entries into the trilogy, arguably, X still has the playful edge, whereas Pearl retains the artistic edge.

As such, MaXXXine feels less distinctive, which does make it somewhat of a letdown compared to its predecessors.

There are many themes the film could have focused on, and while it still has an interesting subtext, it nonetheless feels like the weaker film of the three, as the vision for the narrative lacks the boldness of the previous films.

Additionally, many characters and plot points are introduced without any fulfilling conclusion, giving the impression that there was a better film in there somewhere, but the filmmakers seemingly ran out of artistic steam when making the final installment

This lack of bravado is particularly evident from the third act of MaXXXine, which feels haphazardly thrown together without any genuinely impactful conclusion to the tale of Maxine, Pearl and those who were unfortunate enough to upset them.

Thus, whether audiences will find the trilogy finale satisfying is a matter of personal preference, and that third act may be where some find that the film simply falls apart and makes them lose interest in the story altogether.

That being said, the three films still form an interesting triptych, flaws and all, and they have cemented that Mia Goth is, indeed, a fucking movie star.

Verdict: 7 out of 10.

  *  *  *  *  *
Produced by Jacob Jaffke, Ti West,
Kevin Turen, Harrison Kreiss, Mia Goth
Written and Directed by Ti West
Starring Mia Goth, Elizabeth Debicki, Moses Sumney,
Michelle Monaghan, Bobby Cannavale, Halsey,
Lily Collins, Giancarlo Esposito, Kevin Bacon

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