MAXXXINE Gives Ti West’s Horror Trilogy a Very Anticlimactic Ending

Light spoilers ahead for MaXXXine.

MaXXXine is the climactic—or should I say anticlimactic—end to Ti West’s trilogy. Rather than a crescendo with a peak, it struggles to even race beside the previous two. Gore and violence are sparse with a plot that lacks focus. It’s more of a pick-your-poison “choose your own adventure” film. With Maxine Minx in Hollywood attempting to transition from porn star to movie star, her past rears up and puts an unnecessary kink in her plans. While audiences won’t walk away hating MaXXXine, it’s a lackluster film that drifts from the mind after viewing.

Directed and written by Ti West, MaXXXine marks the final chapter in the trilogy. Maxine, played by Mia Goth (Suspiria, Infinity Pool), is so close to breaking into Hollywood from the porn industry. But with a snoopy P.I. John Labat (Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F, Leave the World Behind) in the mix, deaths adding up around her, and cops sniffing at her heels, her career might be dead on arrival. However, Maxine is not someone anyone should cross. She still possesses her self-preservation edge. With all the promise built from the other films with Mia Goth’s star performance, it’s a wonder this final film falters so much. 

MaXXXine Takes Audiences From Say Something to Say Nothing

X was astounding because of its gore and how it subverts traditional horror. Rather than the stereotypical “pure” final girl, they have a woman who is literally shooting a porn film to survive. Religion and the restrictions women face play out underneath. There is plenty to draw from rewatching X.

The second film, Pearl, was a prequel focused on gender constraints through a warped Wizard of Oz tale. There’s also the nature versus nurture question of whether Pearl was always prone to violent outbursts or if her mother’s restrictive rearing led her down that path. By its climax, Dorothy does not ever leave Kansas. She remains trapped, building up her bitterness and resentment for a life never lived. 

first look at Mia Goth as Maxine in MaXXXine horror movie

Then there is MaXXXine, a less refined version of the two. MaXXXine lacks cohesion. It has too much happening, and few parts meld together. There are ideas that the movie wanted to explore, including gender and religion, the entertainment industry, and the thin line between entertainment and reality. However, it fails to nail any of them. 

Pointless Parts in MaXXXine Taint the Whole Picture

A familiar refrain will haunt viewers, and it’s one word; “why.” Unfortunately, too much feels unnecessary or designed for laughs. The in-universe film director, Elizabeth Bender (Elizabeth Debicki), feels jammed in without a purpose. Maxine has brief mental struggles with what happened at the farmhouse, but it never amounts to anything. So much hinders the film, like the inclusion of the ’80s real-life serial killer, the Nightstalker. 

At first, it seems as though the infamous murderer is stalking the streets and explicitly targeting those close to Maxine. But it takes little effort to realize who may resent Maxine and her “life of sin.” The movie tries to tease the threat, only showing the individual’s gloved hands, but it does not even take three guesses to identify her foe. So, while it tries to go the mystery route, it fails miserably. MaXXXine‘s uncertainty with what it wants to be. Is it a callout to the industry? Or is the film perhaps a mystery, Giallo horror, etc.? It is unclear.

Mia Goth Still Rocks as Maxine, But There’s Too Much Camp

In MaXXXine, religious zealotry and moments of bright, violent girl power run throughout its narrative. Mia still delivers a forceful and deadly performance. From nutcracker to face-keying, whenever Maxine unleashes her violence on the men around her, it’s always fun and deserved. Still, because of the breadth of what the film takes on, even Mia Goth feels underutilized in the final film. Too much attention goes to flat jokes and exaggerated religious zeal. You nearly forget that Maxine is trying to make a movie. 

Mia Goth as Maxine Minx stands with Elizabeth Debicki in MaXXXine

Detective Williams (Michelle Monaghan) and Detective Torres (Bobby Cannavale) are excess baggage in an already bogged down film. Their whole schtick is Torres being an obnoxious man, talking down to Maxine, then Williams steps in, and Maxine leaves. Rinse and repeat. Many attempts at comedic moments with these two do not land. It’s more obnoxious and will likely leave audiences bewildered. They are not even essential to the final fight.

That Death Was Certainly a Choice

Another strike for MaXXXine, tying in with the gore, is how one death is handled. A Black person has one of the only gruesome deaths that takes place onscreen. Sure, it’s set in the ’80s, and few Black characters in predominantly white films survived. However, if we were going by the checklist of the time, Maxine herself would not have made it out of X intact. 

An argument can be made regarding the fact that the most gruesome deaths are men—although only one is her friend. But there was not enough done to cement that aspect. It’s ruddered in crudely. (If you’re a fan of Cardi B, you can insert her “what was the reason” GIF here.) Because choosing to have one of the most gruesome deaths be a Black person is a jarring disappointment.

Mia Goth as Maxine Minx looks upset in MaXXXine

MaXXXine had all the promise and goodwill engendered by the two preceding films. Unfortunately, it does not earn much beyond a shrug and “That’s it?” It would be fine if it weren’t part of a trilogy that rose beyond gore and violence while still delivering both. But the final act is “Yikes” in cinema form. MaXXXine forfeits it all, devolving into a messy puddle of obscurity, where whatever themes viewers say the movie explores is more of a wish than reality. The further you get from the theater, the less you’ll like or want to remember this film. 


The film hits theaters on July 5.

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