MaXXXine: Hollywood can be Murder

Hollywood can be murder.

Set in the ‘glitz and glamour’ of 80’s Los Angeles, Maxxxine sees Maxine Minx (Mia Goth) set her sights upon becoming a famous actress. Having just stepped out of the adult film industry, she believes that she can become a household name. Though, as she begins her climb to stardom, Maxine falls into the sights of the Night Stalker, a serial killer who has an axe to grind with her.

Written and directed by Ti West, MaXXXine is an absolute joy for as the third (and potentially final?) entry into his X trilogy. Less of a slasher film and more of a grindhouse thriller, MaXXXine has a different edge that it’s previous entries. Bathed in pale tones and shaded lighting, each scene feels as though they have been run through a VCR. (In fact, one of the film’s key locations even involves an adult video store.)

Though this look and feel absolutely adds to the film as part of the fun lies within its adoration of classic horror. But this is nothing new for West. Whereas the first film was a riff on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and its subsequent prequel, Pearl, immersed the viewer in ‘old Hollywood’, MaXXXine also draws the viewer into moviemaking of old. Set in the mid-1980s, the film offers an endless string of homages from Chinatown to Psycho that continue to showcase West’s adoration of the types of genre filmmaking that came before. The director clearly wants to emulate the sorts of films that shaped him and, while that may grow tiresome eventually, it still serves this franchise well.

But the soul of the franchise remains Goth herself. Once again, the actress provides a star-worthy performance in West’s twisty trilogy. Returning as Maxine, Goth brings an intentional grit to her performance here. Having survived the events of X, Maxine bears the scars of her trauma and Goth once again fully immerses herself in the role. Behind her eyes, there’s both fury and fear. We know that she has been left broken but also that she is not to be trifled with either.

After all, Maxine is determined not to accept the life that she doesn’t deserve.

But Maxine’s battle for her life is about much more than revenge. It’s actually about empowerment. Having come out of the adult film industry, she wants to be a mainstream Hollywood actress… yet her past as an actress follows her as much as the Night Stalker. By placing the film in the mid-80s, West drops the viewer into the midst of an era marked by Bible-bashing and spiritual fever. This was a time when many of the strongest voices were Conservatives who insisted that their views on spirituality and morality be seen as the standard. As a result, for many in this film, Maxine will always be looked down upon for her sexuality. 

But Maxine knows she’s a star.

As a result, her journey into Hollywood takes on a slightly different edge. While she’s fighting for her survival, she’s also fighting for herself. Goth embeds her character with an anger, not only at her attacker but also against those who would judge her. She remains determined to chart her own path, even in the face of those who would try to derail her career.

While West’s movies aren’t for the faint of heart, one can’t deny that MaXXXine is yet another solid chapter into his surprisingly engaging franchise. By adding another layer to her fight, West elevates his film from simple grisly murders to something more powerful. And, like Maxine herself, it’s worth taking note.

MaXXXine is available in theatres on July 3rd, 2024. 

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