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Review: ‘MaXXXine’ is a Suspenseful, Blood-Soaked Fusion of Slasher Horror and Noir Murder Mystery that Marks the End of the ‘X’ Trilogy

June 26, 2024Ben MK

Whether it's A Nightmare on Elm Street or the Friday the 13th franchises, there’s no denying that horror fans love their sequels. And with 2022's X and its same-year followup, Pearl, director Ti West managed to achieve something many in the genre aspire to, joining that lauded list of filmmakers who have managed to craft not one but two critically acclaimed tales of terror belonging to the same movie series. Now, two years later, West and franchise star Mia Goth are back with MaXXXine, the final installment in their trilogy centering on one woman's quest for stardom and the homicidal bloodbath that ensues. But does this series-closer have what it takes to make audiences remember its name?

Set six years after the gruesome events of X, in 1985, the story follows 33-year-old Maxine Minx (Goth), the sole survivor of what some in the news media have dubbed the Texas Porn Star Massacre, and a woman hellbent on forging her own path to fame and fortune. An adult film actress originally hailing from the Lone Star State but who has since relocated to Los Angeles, California after killing the elderly woman responsible for the savage murders of her friends, Maxine has her hopes set high on breaking into the world of mainstream theatrical features — a dream that seems even closer to fruition now that she has successfully landed the coveted lead role in the sequel to The Puritan, a cult-favorite horror movie directed by up-and-coming director Elizabeth Bender (Elizabeth Debicki). However, when some of her close acquaintances start showing up dead — apparent victims of the notorious serial killer known as the Night Stalker — it threatens to nullify all her hard work and perseverance, as she must once again fight not only for her future in the industry, but for her life.

Pursued by a sleazy private investigator named John Labat (Kevin Bacon) and a couple of fed-up L.A.P.D. detectives (Michelle Monaghan and Bobby Cannavale) working the Night Stalker case, Maxine must do her best to keep her head on her shoulders — both literally and figuratively. But when the situation gets a little too close for comfort and not even her agent and entertainment lawyer, Teddy Night (Giancarlo Esposito), can protect her, Maxine must take matters into her own capable hands. Venturing up into the prestigious Hollywood Hills, to none other than the mysterious mansion where all of her friends were last seen alive, Maxine will have to confront the one ghost from her past that she never expected to ever see again if she's to free herself once and for all from the spectres that have been haunting her. Despite her previous success surviving the wrath of a homicidal maniac, though, will she be able to emerge unscathed from this latest brush with infamy?

Written and directed by West, the result is just as suspenseful and gory as its predecessors, with ample shock-worthy moments to satisfy even the most seasoned veteran of the genre. Most impressive, however, is Goth, whose record stands at a perfect three for three when it comes to her portrayal of the film's main character — a woman whose will to survive is only matched by her drive to become one of Hollywood's most well-known stars. It's the kind of role Goth has played twice before, so it should come as no surprise to viewers that it's a performance ideally suited to her wheelhouse. Still, nothing can prepare moviegoers for the fusion of slasher horror and noir murder mystery that follows, especially those who slept on the franchise's first two entries.

A blood-soaked sequel that's also a nostalgic look back at the aesthetic of the 1980s, MaXXXine is by no means intended for the faint of heart. Nonetheless, viewers who can stomach the movie's spurts of gratuitous violence will most certainly find plenty to admire in West and Goth's latest collaboration. After all, making one hit film may be an achievement worth praising; to have an entire trilogy of the same caliber, on the other hand, is a feat few filmmakers can claim to have pulled off — whether it's in the horror genre or otherwise.

MaXXXine releases July 5th, 2024 from VVS films. The film has an MPAA rating of R for strong violence, gore, sexual content, graphic nudity, language and drug use. Its runtime is 1 hr. 43 min.

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