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Gritty, Glittering, And Grisly Ending The X Trilogy Deserves – MaXXXine (Film Review)

3 min read
Mia Goth as Maxine Minx wearing a green varsity jacket and a black dress while walking with Halsey as Tabby Martin in a black dress, stockings, and cream fur coat in MaXXXine

Picture credit: A24

told a captivated London crowd at an advance screening of MaXXXine that he didn't expect to be making three of these films when he first put pen to paper – and no doubt, the horror fandom couldn't predict the scale of the X trilogy. After the Texas Chainsaw Massacre-inspired X hit our screens in 2022 starring as both protagonist Maxine Minx and antagonist , it instantly garnered acclaim from fans and critics alike. Soon after came the prequel story Pearl, with Goth returning to the titular role in a surrealist, sugar-coated horror that cemented the franchise's status.

Rounding out the X trilogy is , set a year after the bloody events of the pornstar massacre of which Maxine (Goth) was the sole survivor. The scrappy adult film actress has made her way to Hollywood from the backwoods of Texas and landed her big break in The Puritan 2, a sequel to a wildly controversial and popular horror film from director Elizabeth Bender (). But she's far from able to put her troubled past behind her, as the bodies continue to pile up at the hands of The Night Stalker who's terrorising Tinseltown, with the deaths coming closer and closer to Maxine's doorstep.

From the opening montage credits set to a kickass eighties soundtrack to the blaring neon lights of Hollywood's notorious brothels and peep shows, MaXXXine brings to life the sweaty, seedy sex industry of the period we know from the films of the time. Blending references from Vice Squad and classic Hollywood tales to Psycho and Giallo cinema, West creates an intense, glittering setting grounding us firmly in a ‘live fast, die young' world of stardom. As Maxine lands her dream role, this meticulous scene-setting creates an aura that her downfall is imminent as no mere mortal could possibly keep up with the ever-changing, high-stakes lifestyle Hollywood has to offer.

Of course, this is a horror film, and we know our leading lady will be in peril right from the get-go. But even this knowledge couldn't prepare some for the sudden outbursts of violence and gnarly kills that follow. You'll never look at stiletto heels the same way again. The gore contrasts starkly to the glamour of the Hollywood sets, and the grubby details of Maxine's past that threaten to be unveiled by a private eye () and his mysterious employer. MaXXXine sometimes feels like it has too many threads to explore to their fullest potential, but the final act ties everything together in an explosive, satisfying package that will have audiences gripping the edge of their chairs and cheering in equal measure.

As with X and Pearl before it, Goth is the shining star of MaXXXine. The horror icon is firing on all cylinders as the scrappy, no-nonsense heroine who is struggling to come to terms with her traumatic past and the dizzying heights of stardom she strives for. Debicki is similarly stunning as imposing director Elizabeth whose cutting one-liners offer some truly laugh-out-loud moments alongside Bacon's larger-than-life private eye.

MaXXXine is the gritty, glittering, and grisly ending the X trilogy deserves. Just like the Hollywood it depicts, the film is equal parts beautiful and horrifying – and both mean you simply can't avert your eyes. West masterfully blends elements of pulp with self-referential scenes, bloody violence, and tongue-in-cheek humour that combines everything the audience loved about X and Pearl into one final, fitting hurrah.

MaXXXine is released in UK cinemas on July 5.