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By Benjamin Franz | July 7, 2024

NOW IN THEATERS! The third film in the X slasher trilogy, MaXXXine follows our heroine Maxine Minx (the incomparable Mia Goth) as she is cast in her first actual film The Puritan 2. The follow-up act for up-and-coming director Elizabeth Bender (the indomitable Elizabeth Debicki), she decides this porn starlet has the range to play her femme fatale in this grasp for cinema legitimacy. Unbeknownst to the Hollywood types, Maxine hails from a puritanical pastor family back in Texas, who view Hollywood as the Devil’s Playground.

In the background of the filming of The Puritan 2, a serial killer dubbed The Night Stalker is hard at work, killing actresses and porn starlets and leaving their corpses naked and festooned with a Sealed Pentagram on their cheeks. To complicate matters for Maxine, a Louisiana-based detective, John Labat (Kevin Bacon), is stalking her. To assist her in cleaning up all matters is her agent/lawyer, Teddy Knight, ESQ. (Giancarlo Esposito). Events come to a head when an actress on the set of The Puritan 2 goes missing.

MaXXXine is a wonderful film. A movie about the process of making movies, I absolutely loved that Ti West and his collaborators reconstructed all the practical methods and effects of shooting film for this production. It’s clearly shot on 35 mm film. Eliot Rocket deserves praise for his lighting and stable camera angles. Shooting on film in a practical way really brings out the movie’s magic. I was fully absorbed into this film’s narrative and was not even aware of the time. It just grabs you and drags you along. So cool.

“…she decides this porn starlet has the range to play her femme fatale in this grasp for cinema legitimacy.”

Ti West has served up a glorious finale to his cinema trilogy. I did not find any plot holes to speak of. This film was thoroughly deliberated, discussed, and planned. The scene where Maxine must undergo a mold of her character’s severed head was brilliant. Watching the effects techie apply the wet plaster to her was just delightful. Truly, if you are a cineaste, you owe it to yourself to witness the glory that is MaXXXine.

While MaXXXine is a slasher film, it’s not especially scary so much as it’s knuckle gripping in its intensity of focus. Setting the film in Los Angeles circa 1985 was a smart move. Back when the City of Angels was a seedy, nasty place. The location is as much a character as the actors who inhabit this world developed by the film. Even the cops (Michelle Monaghan and Bobby Cannavale, respectively) are well-presented as former actors who decided to get real jobs. There you have Cannavale’s Detective Torres attempting to act in service of his position, while Monaghan’s Detective Williams exists to eye roll in exasperation every time his lousy acting technique fails. That’s how you know a feller is a great actor when he can choose with great intentionality to act deplorably.

MaXXXine is a rollicking great time at the movies. While it isn’t quite the heavy hitter the first two installments of Ti West’s trilogy were, it still features Mia Goth and her wondrous, deep, expressive eyes. Truly, dear reader, those eyes are magnetic. When she stares at the camera, you cannot look away.

If you’re in the market for a great slasher film or even just a movie about how people used to make movies, seek out MaXXXine. It’s absolutely a great two hours at the theater.

MaXXXine (2024)

Directed and Written: Ti West

Starring: Mia Goth, Elizabeth Debicki, Giancarlo Esposito, Bobby Cannavale, Michelle Monaghan, Kevin Bacon, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

MaXXXine Image

"…a rollicking great time at the movies."

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