“MaXXXine” Review

It turns out Hollywood is the real monster

(Courtesy A24)

MaXXXine from filmmaker Ti West (X, Pearl) is a bit of a curious case. On the one hand, West is clearly a film buff who maintains a deep reverence for horror and exploitation cinema. He has proved this with the previous films in his X Trilogy, for which MaXXXine serves as a conclusion, though he blurs the line between artistic sincerity and over-the-top so often that one begins to question whether Maxxxine is subtly artful or overtly terrible.

In MaXXXine, we follow up-and-coming starlet Maxine Minx (Mia Goth) circa 1984 as she attempts to transcend adult film for the Wicker Man-esque horror of the fictional film The Puritan 2, a big budget studio affair with a snobby director who thinks herself the new Hitchcock (Elizabeth Debicki; who literally takes Maxine to the Psycho set during the film). Elsewhere, a killer loosely based on the real-life Night Stalker slayings roams the streets of LA ritualistically murdering Maxine’s friends while a private dick (an absurd and not-so-enjoyable Kevin Bacon) trails her, threatening to make public her sordid past.

Goth understands the assignment here and effortlessly phases between earnest emotional depth and ridiculous one-liner quippery. In West’s Hollywood—one constructed from equal parts faux glamor and real filth—the 1980s explode incessantly from every corner, be it a fridge full of Tab, the requisite mohawk-bearing punk in the distance or the cavalcade of chintzy hairdos and pseudo new wave sounds.

Everything is exaggerated, in fact, be it the larger-than-life studio system looming at all times, or the purposefully ham-fisted delivery of actors like Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad) and Halsey. Even the foley audio rings fakely across cacophonous footsteps, booming gunshots and squelching gore; West goes out of his way to shoot on unoccupied but familiar sets and in backstage areas, highlighting the non-reality of film while emphasizing that fame-wanters and star-fuckers are often chasing fleeting ghosts and little else.

He even comes close to brilliance once or twice, but a pair of funny little cops played by Michelle Monaghan and Bobby Cannavale mostly muck up the pacing, and the not-so-dramatic conclusion is cause for laughs—and not particularly in the good way. If nothing else comes from the X Trilogy, however, Goth is quite the talent and it’ll be exciting to see what she does next.


+Interesting enough; Mia Goth kills

-Is it satirizing or up its own ass?


Directed by West

With Goth, Debicki, Bacon, Esposito, Halsey, Monaghan and Cannavale

Violet Crown Cinema, R, 113 min.

Letters to the Editor

Mail letters to PO Box 4910 Santa Fe, NM 87502 or email them to editor[at] Letters (no more than 200 words) should refer to specific articles in the Reporter. Letters will be edited for space and clarity.

We also welcome you to follow SFR on social media (on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) and comment there. You can also email specific staff members from our contact page.