"I take orders from the Octoboss."

MaXXXine

I hope everybody had a good Big Mia Weekend this year! For me, MAXXXINE was easily the most anticipated non-FURIOSA movie event of the summer.

In case you haven’t met Maxine Minx, she’s a character from Ti West’s X (2022). That’s a slasher movie set in 1979, when a group of amateur pornographers rent a farmhouse to shoot their first movie and are terrorized by the octogenarian owners (and an alligator). Mia Goth (A CURE FOR WELLNESS) plays both Maxine, the star of the porno shoot, and Pearl, the withered psychopath she runs over at the end. The prequel PEARL (shot back-to-back and released in the same year) is set in 1918, with Goth playing young Pearl growing up and losing her shit in the same farmhouse.

Now MAXXXINE completes the trilogy with Goth playing Maxine in 1985. Since surviving the massacre she’s had a successful porn career in Los Angeles and is now trying to move into “real” movies, like Marilyn Chambers or Traci Lords. But just when she seems to have her big break a sleazy private detective named John Labat (Kevin Bacon, FRIDAY THE 13TH, WILD THINGS) starts to harass her about her past, and also someone starts killing her friends and co-workers.

When I read that West wanted to make a third X film set in the ‘80s and inspired by “the VHS era,” I figured that might just mean post-FRIDAY THE 13TH slasher movies, but I thought it would be cool if it was more like the ANGEL series (1984-1993), which was about a teenage prostitute turned vigilante on the streets of Hollywood. And wow, I got my wish! It’s ‘80s Hollywood Boulevard, fringe characters who once had dreams of stardom, tough sex workers having to protect themselves on the streets. In fact my favorite scene has Maxine walking home at night, right past a wall of TVs warning people not to be out alone because of the Night Stalker, she goes right into a dark alley and gets accosted by a guy dressed as Buster Keaton (Zachary Mooren, CAT PERSON). Who will regret his decision.

Maxine doesn’t build herself a family of misfits like Angel does, but we see through the course of her day that she has many friends at the strip club, the peep show booths, and the porn studio, she lives above an adult video store (that also carries horror) and is close with the owner or clerk Leon (Moses Sumney, a musician who appeared in CREED as a member of Bianca’s band).

With a stronger focus on Maxine, a much larger scope (multiple locations, longer period of time, more story threads) and a mystery premise, MAXXXINE feels totally different from X, but there are similarities. She hoped THE FARMER’S DAUGHTERS would make her a star, now she hopes THE PURITAN II will make her a different kind. And some of the characters have parallels. There are her fellow friends of the industry who become victims (though they have less screen time here). Her agent/lawyer Teddy Knight (Giancarlo Esposito, FRESH) is similar to Wayne Gilroy – an older, sleazy man who seems noble to her because he helped her when she was in trouble and really believes in her becoming a star. And her director Elizabeth Bender (Elizabeth Debicki, WIDOWS) is Hollywood’s answer to RJ, the film student who thought he could stand out by treating his porn as art. There’s obviously a meta element to this – it’s a sequel in a horror series but she compares Maxine’s character to Charles Bronson in DEATH WISH – and she says something like she wants “a B picture with A ideas.” As with X, I suspect West may be confessing his intentions but in a sort of self-mocking way, not a self important one.

Just as the other two in the trilogy nod to the cinematic style of their eras, MAXXXINE throws in some ‘80s flourishes like inkbrush fonts and a muddy, degraded texture to the video format. I’m pretty sure it cleans up for the movie-within-a-movie, which I liked – usually they go in the other direction. The song choices (Animotion’s “Obsession,” New Order’s “Shellshock,” Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Welcome to the Pleasuredome”) really sound like a soundtrack of the era, and I’m particularly impressed by Tyler Bates (BALLISTIC, GET CARTER)’s score, which not only gets the synth sounds right, but the guitar stings, and the saxophone! It almost feels like it could’ve been part of the GRINDHOUSE franchise had that become a thing, but I mean that as a compliment. It doesn’t feel like parody. And I love that the big ‘80s reference in this movie is about is uncool as they come – ST. ELMO’S FIRE! Usually it’s too tempting to reference a childhood favorite or a cult classic. It’s time the kids knew the truth that even if we remember the ’80s for THE THING and EVIL DEAD 2 at the time people paid more attention to an insipid yuppie coming-of-age movie.

Meanwhile, without naming them in the movie (only interviews), West channels the spirit of ‘80s urban exploitation movies like VICE SQUAD and the aforementioned ANGEL. Here we see characters you wouldn’t see out on the farm, like the police detectives, Williams (Michelle Monaghan, KISS KISS BANG BANG) and Torres (Bobby Cannavale, PARKER), a failed actor who’s always putting on a performance. Maxine follows a no snitching policy, not trusting them any more than the private eye who’s stalking her.

As one would expect, Bacon goes to town on his character, doing an over-the-top New Orleans accent and just making him a gross asshole we know is gonna be enjoyable to see get come-uppened by our dear Maxine. Expanding beyond a limited location also allows for Toby Huss (COPSHOP) to pop up as a coroner, and Larry Fessenden (HABIT) as a security guard. (Giving Larry Fessenden a cameo in your horror movie is kind of like getting a holy man to bless your house.)

But this is not about the ensemble, really. This is about Maxine. It’s just so unusual as a sequel. She’s off in a different place facing a different threat but she’s on the run for what she did in the first movie – killing the bad guy. That never happened to any of the other Final Girls! Also, they never went off and were the main character in another movie with a different killer (not counting copycats in SCREAM sequels). The threat here is set up in the first movie but it’s not a repeat of what we saw before.

When X came out I didn’t remember Goth from the SUSPIRIA remake, didn’t know who she was. When I realized she played both Maxine and Pearl it raised my eyebrows, but her performance in PEARL burned them right off. It’s my favorite of the series because it’s built around how fun it is to see her play that character. Pearl is a total psycho who we know lives to a very horny 80 and chops up a bunch of innocent people, but we love her and want to fix her. One of the great characters of modern horror.

Now for the trilogy-capper she’s playing that other character from the first movie. We get back into what Maxine was about and then where she’s progressed to now. But Goth playing both characters always signaled parallels between them, and Pearl remains a presence in MAXXXINE. She’s mentioned by name once, when Labat tries to threaten Maxine with what he knows, and she’s alluded to in a badass moment when Maxine asks “Do you know what happened to the last person who tried to kill me?”

I love the scene where Maxine visits the set of PSYCHO (and PSYCHO II, it is noted) and thinks she sees old Pearl in the window, like Norman saw his mother. There’s the straight forward interpretation that she’s haunted by memories of Pearl killing her friends and/or the fact that she killed Pearl (something she never fessed up to, maybe because she’s a runaway, maybe because she knows she went overboard). But also there’s the Norman Bates interpretation that they’re the same. Not literally the same person in this case, but she has that Pearl in her.

It was kind of a trick that Maxine survived X at all – West uses every trope in the book to set up Jenna Ortega’s character Lorraine as the heroine, then she’s abruptly blasted with a shotgun. The “Church Mouse” didn’t make it so it was up to a character who would’ve been a goner in any ‘80s slasher to rise to the occasion. As I wrote in my review at the time, she’s “Maxine, the burlesque performer turned porn actress, the lapsed preacher’s daughter runaway, who snorts cocaine at the beginning and end of the movie. And she’s our hero. It’s not ironic. We like her. Movies can do that now. I respect that.” Radical forgiveness.

Having transcended the judgment of the slasher formula, now Maxine faces the wider conservative streak of the Reagan years. An opening credits montage throws in snippets of Tipper Gore telling Congress about “Darling Nikki,” we’ve got (kinda fake looking but narratively important) Christian protesters picketing the production of THE PURITAN II, and some satanic panic kicked off by the real life serial murders of the so-called “Night Stalker.” (I think it’s kinda gross to reference a real killer so much, but then I was able to enjoy SUMMER OF SAM, DERANGED and ONCE UPON A TIME …IN HOLLYWOOD, so I don’t know.)

This is either a MAJOR SPOILER or QUASI-SPOILER here because it was what I assumed was going on, but my friends who hadn’t seen X since it came out did not. The unseen, leather-gloved figure who hires the private eye to find Maxine and also kills her friends turns out to be YES THIS IS THE SPOILER her father, just credited as “Televangelist” in X and still played by Simon Prast (THE SINKING OF THE RAINBOW WARRIOR). Maxine ran away from him into the porn industry, so in a way he’s George C. Scott in HARDCORE. But he’s also the killer/cult leader, so when he’s unmasked he plays it big like Betsy Palmer in FRIDAY THE 13TH. As in West’s also-‘80s-set 2009 movie THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL (co-starring Greta Gerwig!), there’s a big build up to a ritual and then it’s rushed through not-so-coherently, but what does come across is the hypocrisy of these extremists who call everybody and everything the devil and in trying to prove it they end up sacrificing women and even branding them with pentagrams. They call Hollywood sick while shooting actual snuff videos as part of their religious practice, making for found footage sequences that are the queasiest part of the actual movie. They stage their big finale ritual for cameras, and some of the cultists in scary robes are holding boom mics. Just like Maxine, or Pearl before her, Dad wants nothing more than the spotlight.


I loved watching MAXXXINE and I loved watching Maxine. Though not as much of a showcase of Goth’s mega-ness as PEARL or INFINITY POOL, it’s another one fueled by her great performance. Maxine is less fragile than in X, and has earned some swagger. She gets to strut. But now she kind of has three sides: the regular Maxine her friends know, the terrified one hiding secrets, and the savage survivor only seen by the bastards who corner her and push her over the edge.

So the only reason I think this fails to live up to X or PEARL on a first viewing is that we never get an extended experience with that third Maxine. There’s a great set up and reason for her to really run wild at the end, and she does ultimately get to put an exclamation point on it. But she’s tied up for most of the climax instead of driving the action. Maybe it’s supposed to be subverting something, but it’s frustrating.

To be fair, I sort of felt that way about X the first time too. In my review I said “I think by the end we’ve earned a couple more rotations over the top that we don’t end up getting.” But later rewatching X as a double feature with PEARL really raised my appreciation of it, and I hope later this year I’ll be able to buy a trilogy box set and see what happens watching all three. (Maybe in narrative order this time instead of release order?)

Despite my problems with the climax, the conclusion is pretty good. SPECIAL ENDING SPOILER ZONE THIS PARAGRAPH ONLY: For this whole movie she’s had two goals: hide her secret murdering past, and fulfill her dream of becoming a star. I think when she becomes famous for both acting and splattering her dad’s head into mush it’s not some NATURAL BORN KILLERS type violence-in-the-media satire bullshit, it’s sort of a coming out. She’s got nothing to hide now. She’s an open book.

For the time being, MAXXXINE is my least favorite of the trilogy, despite seeming the most designed for me. But I’ve seen some references to people really hating it and that I can’t comprehend. It has a select menu of knockout gore moments that had the audience laughing well into the next scene, it has some really great lines and jokes I keep suddenly remembering and laughing about again, it follows its own idiosyncratic path in horror franchising, and most of all it has Maxine Minx. Sadly there are many movies these days that don’t even bother with that.


P.S. I hope the X-verse continues. I still want HOUSE OF PEARL (black and white classic horror set in the ’30s – or ‘60s if West is in a CARNIVAL OF SOULS mood) and here are some other titles I am offering to A24 pro bono:

MINX: MAXXXINE PART II
MAXXXINE: STATE OF THE UNION
MAXINE xxx PEARL: THE NEW EMPIRE
PEARL INTERRUPTED
THE PEARL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO
A PEARL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT

If MAXXXINE does huge box office and justifies a big budget sequel, her ‘90s movie should be a DIE HARD ripoff, like DIE HARD at a film festival or something. If the budget has to be lower it should be a cyber thriller, an inspirational teacher movie or a PRETTY WOMAN remake. And then 2000s could be a dance battle movie.

P.P.S. I wonder if West ever considered including a sewer alligator?

This entry was posted on Monday, July 8th, 2024 at 7:09 am and is filed under Reviews, Crime, Horror. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

21 Responses to “MaXXXine”

  1. Fun fact: In 2024, the villains of this movie serve as Republican lawmakers.

    Loved this one, though yes, it may be the weakest. It dicks around with Kevin Bacon as a sub-boss too long and then just rushes to the main boss in a way that feels dramatically unearned — how does Maxine really feel upon confronting the source of all that death to be her own father?

    I also caught the Vice Squad vibe. The 80’s details are great. Also, Vern, Maxine shit-talks her killing of Pearl to the Buster Keaton guy, not to Kevin Bacon.
    BTW, Moses Sumney has several really good pop albums out there.

  2. Inspector Hammer Boudreaux

    July 8th, 2024 at 12:13 pm

    Also on that ST ELMO’S FIRE tip of what we remember about an era isn’t what that era was actually into: somebody mentions that a horror sequel isn’t exactly TERMS OF ENDEARMENT in terms of putting you on course to mainstream respectability and Leon says what are people going to still like in 30 years? And we talk about 80s horror sequels here but where do people talk about TOE? This is meta like the B movie with A ideas thing, too.

  3. I liked it, but was disappointed by a few things in the ending
    (/SPOILERS) Maxine’s reduced agency, mainly – she only gets to deliver a coup de grace! (and, to be fair, a killer sendoff line); I was hoping she’d be the main driver behind the bloodbath. I also wasn’t a fan of the jumbled way the shootout is filmed, but I think that fits in with the time and the genre. (/END SPOILERS).

    But I loved it up to that point, and the film’s grown again on me a lot over these last few days. The first fifteen minutes or so of the film alone are as good as anything I’ve seen since last year.

    I find it amazing it was shot on digital – there’s an interesting interview online with the cinematographer Eliot Rockett talking about how he, the lighting department and the movie’s colorist achieved its look, and it mirrors the comments here from a few threads back.
    Also, Ti West is on record saying he likes ST ELMO’S FIRE a fair bit.

  4. I believe I made a similar comment on the MR. MOM review in the regards to the astoundingly uncool score. Retro 80s movies want you to believe that the 80s was all John Carpenter badass Moogs and Vangelis soaring synths, but the reality was mostly tenor sax and electric piano. You could practically hear the faux wood grain.

  5. I liked it a whole lot and was with it fully until SPOILER TIME the carcrush scene, in that why would her ‘entertainment lawyer’/agent and strip club security guy (I think) want to be complicit in a murder? Maybe I missed something about how disreputable they were.
    Also I felt her killing of Pearl was not something she needed to be so scared of being exposed, wasn’t it (slightly OTT) justifiable homicide? I guess it would’ve derailed her acting career…

  6. Glaive – I was referring to Kevin Bacon mentioning Pearl and Howard by name when confronting Maxine with what he knows.

  7. SPOILERS. I did not hate this film. I really enjoyed the first 75% or so. That said, I can sympathize with someone who is very angry at the film, because the film just falls apart after the truly fantastic Kevin Bacon send off. The ending is the most critical part, and this is for now at least the end of the end of the trilogy. So, kind of important. I find that the dad twist fails on all sorts of levels. It’s just ridiculous on principle that he would have the motivation or means to orchestrate this sort of conspiracy, it’s not particularly imaginative in the first place to do a satanic panic plot, and the dad screentime, performance, and chemistry with Maxine just fall flat. Also, all we learned from Part 1 is that her dad is a southern preacher guy, but the nature of his relationship with or possible falling out with Maxxine is left completely ambiguous in Part 1. This film does not develop or motivate anything here, it just informs us rather jarringly that at some point her preacher father got so upset about Maxine’s line of work and also so incredibly resourceful that he was able to assemble a a conspiratorial kill cult. It’s a catastrophic whif of a resolution.

    Also, this film just doubles down on Maxine being cold and calculating and does not even pretend to give her any kind of conventional growth arc or vulnerability or whatever: she’s like the Pearl that actually made it (which I think might be the film’s message — Maxine finally fulfilled the dream Pearl never managed to). The problem is that Pearl is not someone we should root for, and by the end of this film, neither is Maxine. I don’t enjoy rooting for a fairly one-dimensional mean girl. A film can be extremely dark without being so bleak and cynical. I did not experience Maxine as an anti-hero in X, but I definitely did here.

    Finally, the last 5 or so minutes just made no damned sense to me. When the chopper is hovering over her telling her to put down the gun, I thought the implication was that they were going to fire on her if she didn’t. So, then when she survives, I was thinking she must have put down the gun and not killed her dad. But then we cut back and she does shoot her dad. So, at that immediate point where she shoots him, I was thinking that her scene at the Chinese theatre must have been sort of her alternative future flashing before her eyes, as in: chopper says put down your gun, she imagines her future stardom, then she just says “fuck it, I’m blowing this bastard away.” But that’s not what happened (?), what happened was: Chopper says put down your gun, she blows her dad away anyway, chopper does nothing, she lives happily coked up ever after? It was presented in a very choppy and confusing fashion.

    I can’t and don’t want to simply grade the film based on like “average scene quality” or some other composite. The last act and climax really are make or break for me, and in this case it was a definite break. So, I can sympathize with the hate, which is proportionate to the expectations: you don’t hate something unless you’re invested in it and affected by it. It’s a compliment when someone cares enough about what you’re doing to hate it vs. merely shrug.

    I really enjoyed everything up to and especially the last Bacon scene. I enjoyed the new characters and performances, loved the aesthetic, thought everything about it felt like a worthy and delightful continuatio of the trilogy. Also, that whole ZZ Top credits scene was tough! Loved it.

    Did not hate this film, but the bad ending did break my heart a little. Insert lame joke about not accepting a third act I don’t deserve.

  8. This is now an amazing trilogy. I saw Maxxxine last night and although I’m ranking it 3rd out of the 3 movies I still really liked it. The sleazy televangelist father felt very 80’s to me. It made me think of Jim Baker and Jimmy Swaggart and a person from my past who was a preacher and also made silencers (go figure)! So for me the ending still worked but I can see how some fans might be a bit upset at this ending.

  9. It felt like it was a bit too much for the “mother is mothering” type fans, because there really wasn’t much of a plot besides callbacks to the first two movies and “I’m a fucking star!” I’m not sure why the villain was a mystery when it ended up being the most obvious suspect (and most obvious theme imaginable). And the constant random movie references (Jake Gittes from Chinatown? Why?) made this feel like a feature-length version of the ending montage in Babylon. Da movies, I guess.

    I suppose part of 80s nostalgia now is that it’s the last decade where the fun-hating killjoys were easily dismissed Republicans, instead of liberals like Joe Lieberman and Hillary Clinton complaining about violent video games and rap music.

  10. Well, if Clinton and Lieberman count as liberals, Tipper Gore started the PMRC, as seen in the movie.

  11. Yeah, anyone wanna weigh in on that pretty excessive 80’s touchstones as part of an extended montage? I kinda forgot I was watching “Maxxxine” for a minute, and I wasn’t sure how to feel about that. Did we need Dee Snider showing up to testify? Like, I don’t know the value of that period setting stuff, given that the first two films already took place during wildly different and very specific eras.

  12. SPOILERS
    Hadn’t really thought of it all that much. I don’t think I minded, because I was enjoying the aforementioned ZZ Top grandstanding so much, and I kind of loved all the 80s stuff, and I am a sucker for 80s nostalgia in film in general going at least as far back as WEDDING SINGER. Some people find it cringey or played-out, but certain greasy urban 80s tropes and stylistic motifs of the Carpenter/DePalma/T1 vintage never stop working for me. This is a good chance for me to be less negative: I loved the way Maxxine looked, love the video store and VHS, the fashions, the soundtrack, the skid row/peep show aesthetic, the dance club. I’ve read a lot of people shitting on Bobby Cannavale’s failed actor character, but I enjoyed it. The first 75% of the film ends up feeling a little thin and lacking in how it developed Maxine, but only in hindsight: I was so caught up in everything for the first 80 minutes -ish, that my analytical brain was off and I was in pure enjoyment / where is this going? brain. It wasn’t until the bad guy reveal, that I got knocked out of pure experiential mode and into analytical mode, which in itself speaks to the fact that this reveal did not work.

    Having said all that, I felt that re-litigating the moral panic poitics of the 80s to be just sort of boring. Not very imaginative or brave. I could not find the timeliness or novelty of the satire or commentary in it. I felt like X had much more interesting and weird questions to raise and feelings to evoke from a “sex positive” and female empowerment standpoint, whereas this film seems to offer us a false choice between two ugly options: nihilism and fanaticism. Yes, Maxxine is a boss bitch and a force of nature, but, like Pearl, there’s a fundamentally empty and circular and depressing quality to her ambition. Cutting the SAG card with the cocaine seems to be West admitting as much, but I can’t for the life of me figure out what he is trying to say about Maxxine’s journey: Religious fanaticism is bad, being tough and cunning is better than the alternatives, and becoming a fuckin’ star is not all is no panacea itself. Felt muddled and underwhelming and seemed to close off more interesting possibilities in favor of a fairly safe, partly winking cynicism.

    It did occur to me that Maxxine deciding to try to stop the cult and answering Monaghan’s challenge to help protect the next victim — that does represent some sacrificial growth (doubling back and doing the right thing). But everything about that final confrontation and its aftermath felt off in concept and execution, like West suddenly decided he had a message for us about repression that he needed to express directly, but the problem is that it’s a message with all the cutting originality of Darwin fish or some other c. 1990s bumper sticker. I don’t know, X and Pearl just seemed way smarter and more interesting and effortlessly so.

  13. I don’t know what West is trying to say, but I know what I heard. What I love about Pearl and Maxine is that they (especially Pearl) are not good people, and not even good artists* – they simply believe their own supposed star quality and have no higher calling (except to escape their punishing lives through this magical status). But their movies frame them (especially Maxine) in a way that they are sympathetic, and I choose not to judge them, just as West didn’t choose to kill off Maxine in X for doing everything that would’ve made her a goner in a FRIDAY THE 13TH. That’s why I think the Tipper Gore footage and the televangelist villain are perfect – this is a time of extreme judgment, and Maxine is so far down the ladder of supposed righteousness that she has to be in a controversial gory horror movie to *improve* her status.

    I definitely don’t think she’s supposed to be an inspirational “girl boss” or what the fuck ever, but also not a cautionary tale (even though, it should go without saying, don’t do as Maxine does). And I think not fitting into that binary makes the characters and the trilogy more interesting.

    *On the other hand, Maxine is good in that audition, clearly working off of what she’s been through, so maybe I’m selling her short.

  14. I appreciate those thoughts. With PEARL the film, I shared the experience of being essentially beyond judgment. It’s a character study, and you go inside her world and you get to emphathize with her experience and worldview in a way that takes you beyond judgment. I think it transcends judgment, but it ‘s not free of judgment. Meaning, I don’t think even with PEARL that you can watch what she does and “not judge” her, unless you actually share her sadistic outlook. Like, you’re not watching her do the things she does, thinking “I don’t know, seems reasonable enough, I guess.” She’s a monster. That’s a judgment. She’s an interesting monster, but she’s a monster just the same, and judging her conduct is not prudish moralism, it’s just having some semblance of a moral center.

    The other place where I differ is that I do think the film mostly celebrates and lionizes her as resourceful, tough, and outwitting, out-maneuvering, and out-tough-ing, out-gritting everyone. I think the film mostly judges her as awesome. You see that in her relationship with her director mentor, who expressly encourages her to be ruthless. I think the film mostly celebrates ruthlessness and blind ambition and lacks the tragic element or nuance of PEARL or even X.

  15. Well, I don’t mean judgment that literally, I guess. In real life I would judge Maxine to be a bad person, on account of the killing. But I don’t think the movie treats her as villainous *or* justified. Either would be beside the point. She’s fun to watch because she’s both awesome and terrible, not one or the other, and within the realm of watching movies we accept her for who she is.

  16. Welp, I committed a most egregious cinema sin last night (in my mind, anyway-never done it before): I went and saw MAXXXINE without having seen either of the previous installments.

    Fortunately, I enjoyed it enough that I didn’t spend today wracked with guilt or anything. I would agree with most that the third act is pretty damn flawed and incredibly rushed-maybe Ti *really* wanted to get to the obligatory ’80s shootout climax? It gave me a real BEVERLY HILLS COP vibe, perhaps it was the terrain?

    Anyways, don’t have much to add besides this was easily my favorite Mia Goth performance. I’ve only seen her in this and Infinity Pool, tho, so that prolly doesn’t carry much weight.

    Finally, the tough question: Do y’all say ‘Tee’ or ‘Tie’ West? Just curious.

  17. SPOILERS –
    I think that’s a fair read. And I also thought it was fun, until the end, which left me hollow. I think it would have been stronger to have her grow just a little in her capacity for introspection and/or compassion, whereas the end seemed to double down on empty ambition in a way that seemed depressing and anti-climactic for a trilogy capper. She’s caught the car, I guess. In contrast, with PEARL, I’m comfortable with it going full dark, because it’s priced into the basic proposition that it’s a surprise prequel character study / companion piece / lark. With MAXXINE, I feel like it’s a different proposition, since it’s a supposed trilogy capper that sets itself up to offer something new and some closure. I feel like ending with Maxine as a much more famous and moderately more balanced and prosocial but still not quite happy iteration of Pearl is an unsatisfying way to conclude a trilogy. You could argue that there’s a provocative, constructive ambiguity in that, but the totality of the last 20 minutes or so seemed jumbled and weak. If the series goes on and this is merely Part 3 in the series vs. THE FINAL CHAPTER of the trilogy, I think I would feel a little different, though I think I’d still feel like the whole dad reveal / final battle is jarring and undercooked.

    Also, I pronounce it “Tie.”

  18. Definitely ‘Tie’ (source: West introducing himself at events). This made me wonder if it was a short for something, and it actually is – Timon, of all things; Thank you Wikipedia.

    I definitely think the ending is flawed, though more on a superficial level – mostly in that Maxine loses almost all of her agency for the final action scene and that I found the whole satanic panic angle way too on-the-nose. I would have been ok if they just had better action at the finale, since until then all the movie’s high points are surface level anyways. Not judging, I liked it a lot on those terms.

  19. Say, since his name comes up here, did anybody else see Larry Fessenden’s new werewolf movie BLACKOUT? Like most of his directorial work, it’s a surprising, idiosyncratic piece with more ideas than it knows what to do with (to the point that the horror genre content kinda ends up on the backburner, though never completely forgotten) and it’s sometimes a little amateurish and sometimes a little scatterbrained, but still thoughtful and surprising and worth a look if you’re a fan of his work. William Hurt’s son Alex plays the main character, and I think it’s a genuinely pretty special performance, but there’s a whole menagerie of offbeat character actors in small parts, too (Addison Timlin, Kevin Corrigan, Jame Le Gros, Joe Swanberg, Marc Senter, John Speredakos, Jeremy Holm, Ella Rae Peck, Barbara Crampton [!], Steve Buscemi’s brother Michael). With his interesting DEPRAVED in 2019, it seems to be an attempt to do an offbeat update on the Universal Monsters, right down to the (SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER) tease of a crossover in a post-credit scene.

  20. Ahh, the curse of expectations. I went into X just hoping for a decent slasher, liked it a lot, although not as much as the most glowing reviews. I had no idea what to expect from Pearl, and it blew me away. One of my favorite films of the last few years. Around the same time I also saw Infinity Pool and was amazed by Mia Goth playing a whole different kind of crazy in that, too. So going into MaXXXine I was hoping for a satisfying capper on a good-to-great series and another showcase for Mia Goth. In the end I thought MaXXXine was just pretty good. The first 2/3 I was absolutely wrapped up in its world, but the movie lost steam after Bacon’s exit, and the last act just didn’t fully cohere for me. This movie’s scripts and themes just didn’t hang together as well as the previous movies, it felt like it needed some more refining. West even seemed to realize his ending might be a little lacking, because he threw in the most gratuitously gnarly money shot I can remember from any of his movies (that head blast made my wife spontaneously applaud in the theater, BTW). I didn’t hate the ending, but I did find it a bit confusing how we get what seems like a dream of what happens if she doesn’t shoot, then she shoots, then she has a happy ending anyway. I just don’t understand what the point of seeing that vision or whatever it was if its not supposed to be showing a potential future she is throwing away.

    Its interesting to see someone here watched this one first, I really can’t imagine how well this works as a stand-alone movie. Most of my favorite parts were seeing how it paralleled or differed from elements of the previous movies, like Maxine’s audition reflecting Pearl’s monologue, or the way Maxine has a non-romantic friend to watch horror movies with while Pearl had a guy show her dirty film reels to get in her pants. Maybe those connections will strengthen this film in the long run. I haven’t seen X for a few years, I forgot the preacher character even showed up there. A re-watch might help me get something more out the series as a whole that I wasn’t getting from MaXXXine on its own.

    Random Thoughts:
    Infinity Pool featured a graphic close-up of Mia Goth jerking a dick. MaXXine featured a graphic close-up of Mia Goth stomping a dick. Cinema is like poetry, it rhymes.
    Also was anyone else shocked this got an R-rating? that stomping bit and the head shot both felt like they kept in the extra seconds of footage that would usually have to wait for an unrated cut.
    It was fun seeing Gus Fring playing Saul Goodman. That hairpiece was something.
    The guy next to us in the theater went to grab snacks during the opening credits. When he got back he asked what he missed, I said “just the credits.” He said “oh so she didn’t kill anybody yet?” I feel like that guy must not have even known what kind of horror flick this was, let alone that it was a sequel. If not for my various social phobias I would have loved to ask him what he thought of it afterwards.

  21. Finally got to see this, which I’ve been hotly anticipating since the teaser at the end of PEARL. And this couldn’t have been more up my alley– a sequel to X designed as an 80s American giallo mystery meta-slasher video nasty with Fulci and DePalma nods and special guest star Halsey? Sign me up. I liked it, but I also agree with a number of the issues brought up here.

    SPOILERS

    I think the villain being Maxine’s evangelical preacher father is where the story had to go, even if it was the most obvious. Part of me thought some other characters would turn out to be involved, like Debicki or Michelle Monaghan (based purely on her nose looking like Mia Goth’s). But it’s okay that they kept it simple. I like the notion that even though he’s draped himself in religion, the dad is just out to be famous, the same as Maxine or Bobby Cannevale. And I do think that’s relevant to modern society in our area of increasing power for Evangelical christo-fascists and megachurches.

    I appreciate they brought the same actor back to play the father, but I also wish, since he was clearly available, that they swapped Toby Huss into the part. I think he would’ve given a better performance, fit the darkly humorous horror tone, and matched Mia Goth’s intensity. I also agree that Maxine needed a little more agency in the end, and that two dream-like flash-forwards is one too many.

    Loved all the little echoes of the previous films– the little Pearl dance, Theda Bara, the heads over credits, the monologue at the beginning, some other things I’m probably missing. Like this is a story reverberating through time, and if they make another movie 20 years from now, Mia Goth will play against her younger self as a third incarnation tries to rise to stardom.

    I caught this in a double feature with LONGLEGS, and I think there are some interesting connections there between the films, like the Satanic Panic, or how the director of LONGLEGS is the son of PSYCHO II star Anthony Perkins, and some plot plot and thematic intertwinings.

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