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MaXXXine Review: Murder, mayhem, mystery, Maxine

MaXXXine titled card.


“I will not accept the life I do not deserve.” - Maxine Minx

I think the best aspect of Ti West’s horror trilogy is the unexpectedness of it. They are completely different from one another and yet when pieced together tell a full story. X is set in 1979 and shows a younger Maxine in the midst of her adult film career. It’s a slasher through and through. Pearl is set in 1918 showing the origins of the old woman who would go on to create absolute havoc for an adult film crew in the late 70s. This is a villain origin story. And now MaXXXine sometime in the 1980s. This is a thrilling crime story of passion and mystery. It’s a lot of time jumping but if you think of it as telling a specific story and then going back to create a more clear and complete narrative of events both past and present, it begins to take a recognizable shape. But beyond simple time manipulation, the stylistic choices for each film is as different and varied as the characters that surround both Pearl and Maxine. 

Maxine and Tabby walk at night in Hollywood. MaXXXine.

X is a more toned down color palette highlighting the griminess of the 70s porn industry, the lack of healthy growth on a once vibrant farm and listlessness of an old bitter woman suddenly compelled to massacre the youthful film crew who in her eyes had the audacity of bringing to her doorstep perhaps the greatest failure of her life - missing her chance to become an actress in the golden age of Hollywood. And allowing a certain amount of sexual freedom where she had none.

Pearl is a technicolor dreamscape showcasing a bountiful farm, a youthful Pearl, her life still very much ahead of her. I believe the striking color of Pearl is a haunting contrast to the dismal state of young Pearl’s life, controlled with an iron fist by her horrifically overbearing, of course religious mother. It’s also a highlight of Pearl’s mental state seeing things not as they are but how she wishes them to be and becoming extremely violent when someone threatens that state of mind. It then becomes highly alarming when she does in fact snap and carries out heinous acts of murderous mayhem, spilling blood and separating limb from body. The deep red of the spilled crimson is jarring as it is at once oddly beautiful but of course unnaturally obtained. 

The rare time when Maxine runs to escape. MaXXXine.

And now we reach the decade of MTV, the beginning of Nintendo in America, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collective loss of America’s innocence through movies, music and pornography. In the middle of it all is Maxine Minx, destined in her mind to become the biggest name in Hollywood, no matter the cost. The graininess commonplace in film during the 80s is what takes over Maxine’s final chapter as she reaches for the mountaintop. It combines with a brilliant musical score that together breathe life into an era passed by over thirty years ago and yet in this world, it’s alive and unwell. It illuminates the grime of Hollywood long since moved past the golden age and finding itself beholden to an “everyone for themselves” kind of mentality. The cinematography brings the smoke of their cigarettes into the room with you, filling your lungs as it does theirs. You can smell the cleaner caking the floors and walls of a smut store dripping with more than just paint. It makes you feel unclean. 

Mia Goth as Maxine. MaXXXine.

Each so different from one another but somehow still act as chapters of a larger story featuring themes of identity, youth and the pursuit of one’s dreams. There is a freedom these characters display throughout each movie but seemingly do so at the cost of morality and decency. They just so happen to do these things in the presence of certain individuals that take severe umbrage to their uninhibited actions. And in the eyes of these unhinged independents a toll must be paid for their perceived moral betrayal. There is a poison throughout the chapters stemming from the misunderstood and unwanted proclamation of self righteous religious zealots. If they simply stopped and asked the all too important question, “What would Jesus do?” they might behave differently. But that’s nothing more than wishful thinking on my part.

Kevin Bacon is a real dick. MaXXXine.

Pearl acts as an unseen warning of what it looks like when reality crushes the dreams of the fanatical. It is ultimately a practice in futility. MaXXXine is one woman’s refusal to fall through the cracks beneath Hollywood’s polished, shit stained boot heel. If there is anything to be learned from Maxine, it is the time tested concept of not judging a book by its cover. The demonstration of such this time just so happens to be in the form of a petite, youngish woman willing to crush (literally) anyone standing in her way of that stardom she so desperately yearns for. There’s also a deranged perspective of following your dreams. It all just falls between the moments of abhorrent, violating brutality committed by the maniacally obsessed.

Maxine and her director get inspired by a psycho. MaXXXine.

MaXXXine tells the story of Maxine Minx, several years removed from her death defying escape from the grips of a mad woman hellbent on destroying her. She finds herself more popular than ever in the porn industry during 1980s Hollywood, California. While not ashamed of her less wholesome reputation, her dreams of true stardom still await her and she will stop at nothing to achieve her dreams. Even in the throes of a serial killer running rampant in closer proximity to her than any kind of comfort would allow. Still, she persists. There’s an admirable quality to her determination, even when she sees her only means of protecting her future is to leave her own past in ruin. Although, as she will learn kicking and screaming, the past has a way of turning up when it’s most unwanted. 

MaXXXine is the final chapter of Ti West’s overarching horror story of women’s torture, both endured and utilized by. The differences in each highlight the beauty and despair of dream chasing and what it takes to truly stand out among the crowd. Mia Goth repeatedly demonstrates her powerhouse acting abilities as both the unholy Pearl and the morally bankrupt Maxine. But as we learn about Pearl and Maxine, we witness the influence of those around them and it brings up the question, “If these are the people in their lives, what chance did Pearl and Maxine have of being decent human beings?” Still, we are each ultimately responsible for our own life choices. Maxine and Pearl just happen to take extreme measures against anyone and anything threatening what they have convinced themselves they must do. Whether it’s the failed dreamer or the one still pursuing hers, fear them and steer clear. The Night Stalker be damned. 

Maxine is not to be messed with. MaXXXine.

Rated R For: strong violence, gore, sexual content, graphic nudity, language and drug use

Runtime: 104 minutes

After Credits Scene: No

Genre: Crime, Horror

Starring: Mia Goth, Elizabeth Debicki, Giancarlo Esposito, Kevin Bacon

Directed By: Ti West

Out of 10

Story: 8.5/ Acting: 9/ Directing: 9/ Visuals: 9.5


Buy to Own: Yes.


Check out the trailer below:


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