Film Review: MaXXXine – 8/10

‘I’m a star. Ain’t nobody else like me. The whole world’s gonna know my name…’

Ti West is probably the best chameleon working in Hollywood today. While Pearl and X flirted with numerous cinematic eras and styles, MaXXXine, the third and final film in the trilogy, is set and filmed firmly in the style of 1985. Watching the opening sequence of this movie genuinely made me feel as if I had found an old VHS tape at the back of the cupboard. As with the other two films in this incredible franchise, however, this is a film that is far from style over substance…

Picking up six years after the events of X, Maxine Minx (Mia Goth) has made it to Hollywood and while she has been mostly resigned to adult movies, we reacquaint with her at the start of the film as she is just about to win the part in a much-anticipated horror sequel from up and coming British director Elizabeth Bender (Elizabeth Debicki). Against this backdrop, the serial killer known as the Night Stalker is haunting Los Angeles and Maxine is being pursued by a sinister private detective (Kevin Bacon).

One of the most striking things about this trilogy is that all three films work independently of each other. I rewatched both Pearl and X in the run-up to this film and while having seen them does enhance the experience of watching MaXXXine, it certainly isn’t an essential prerequisite. All three films are deliberately crafted to be very different from each other. Here, West leaves behind the Texas Chainsaw grime of X and replaces it with the sheen and glass bricks of the Yuppie Nightmare movies and Brian De Palma.

Goth, as usual, is utterly sensational and she perfectly channels the cocaine-fuelled paranoia of America in the 80s. It’s another tour de force performance from the British actor and it is genuinely a disgrace that she will leave this franchise without an Oscar nomination to her name. While the ensemble supporting cast do a sterling job, aside from Goth, West’s assured direction is the other star of this movie. This has just as many winks and nods to Hollywood’s Golden Era as Damien Chazelle’s Babylon, and it’s just as unhinged, but this is a much more controlled and assured film. West has a clear vision and he executes it perfectly.

While Pearl remains the high watermark of this franchise, MaXXXine works as a fitting end to one of the all-time great horror trilogies.