mia goth holding up a gun in maXXXine

With ‘MaXXXine,’ Ti West’s ‘X’ Trilogy Is Perfection

Ti West’s Maxine Minx trilogy is a horror masterpiece. Starting with the 2022 film X and its followup Pearl that same year, fans have been waiting patiently for the third installment in West’s world. And MaXXXine doesn’t disappoint!

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West’s vision for Maxine Minx (Mia Goth) has always been one of determination. Maxine wants to be a star, and she isn’t going to let anyone stop her. She wasn’t going to let Pearl ruin it, and what we see in MaXXXine is a woman who still has her own goals at the forefront of her mind. MaXXXine takes place after the events of X, but far enough removed that Maxine has made a career for herself in adult films.

Tracking her newfound success there and her dream of something bigger, MaXXXine explores how deep that dream lies within her. With the film set during the time in ’80s Los Angeles when the Night Stalker was terrorizing its citizens, my only criticism is that I wish that tied into it somehow. So much of this movie reminds us that the Night Stalker murders were happening at the same time as the kills in MaXXXine, and while we don’t know who is doing the kills in-universe, it still is very clearly someone trying to look like the same murderer.

And that’s about the only connection the film has to the real horrors in Los Angeles. That fear that pervaded the city is represented in Tabby (Halsey), who doesn’t want to go anywhere alone but still goes off to a party by herself.

For all the “vibes” that MaXXXine possesses, it is also a movie about the Hollywood dream, and the bright lights and dark shadows that can come along with it. But having a character like Maxine Minx at the center of it works to its advantage.

A thrilling conclusion

halsey and mia goth walking next to each other on hollywood boulevard

I wasn’t sure how MaXXXine would hold up. Going through X and Pearl in the lead up to this movie, I loved how specific both were to the time period and horror films they were commenting on. The ’70s feel of X made it unique, the Lizzie Borden-esque appeal of Pearl captivated me, and I wasn’t sure that MaXXXine would work.

That was foolish of me, considering that I love ’80s thrillers and it is set during a time in history that was horrific to live in—perfect for someone like Maxine.

The setting does really do a lot of the heavy lifting for this movie. We know how scary it was for people in California, and we know what Maxine has been through, and those two things work in tandem really well to make the tension and the vibes we’ve come to know and love from this franchise work. Look, the last act had something that made me laugh out loud because it was so Hollywood, and I truly can’t stop thinking about this one guy who is a boom operator.

Probably the least frightening of the three, MaXXXine is more of a thriller than anything else, but there are some good “slasher” moments to keep it on theme with the rest of Maxine and Pearl’s story.

Don’t tell her she won’t be a star

mia goth walking down the road in Maxxxine

The phrase “she’s THAT b*tch” applies to a lot of women, but the way I love Maxine Minx is really because she is … well, that b*tch. From X to MaXXXine, she made it clear that she had one goal in mind: to be famous.

She wasn’t going to hurt someone on purpose to get there, and she did have trauma from her past (her evangelical father being part of it) that fueled that passion. But what we see in MaXXXine is a woman who refuses to let someone else tell her what she will and will not do, and even though that is born out of what she lived through, it is something that never waivers in MaXXXine.

She is being stalked by a private detective named John Labat (Kevin Bacon) and is still determined to star in a new movie from Elizabeth Bender (Elizabeth Debicki). None of what else is going on seems to matter because she doesn’t want to lose this job.

That’s what I love the most about her. It isn’t about trying to do some grand thing or change the world. She wants to be a star, and she’ll find a way to do it. Even when we see her break and that hard exterior falls, she still puts on her cold shell to find her success.

I just think that so much of this movie is stunning to watch. I instantly wanted to dress like Maxine, run through the backlot at Universal Studios like she does, and live in this movie (minus the killings, obviously).

But MaXXXine only works because it has X to introduce us to this world. This entire trilogy works together and only that way, and I think it is kind of magical to see.

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.