MaXXXine review: a killer ending to Ti West’s trilogy

Mia Goth takes on 1980s Hollywood in MaXXXine, a thrilling close to Ti West's horror trilogy.
Halsey as Tabby Martin and Mia Goth as Maxine Minx in MaXXXine. Image: A24/Universal Pictures

Maxine Minx is back! No longer satisfied with stripping down in dirty sheds for cheap pornos, Mia Goth’s ambitious Southern Belle Maxine has decided to conquer 1980s Hollywood and become ‘a real actress’.

MaXXXine is the third film in Ti West’s horror trilogy that began in 2022 with X and was followed by prequel Pearl in 2023. In X, Maxine Minx (whose real name is Maxine Miller) becomes the final girl in a ‘Texas Pornstar Massacre’, an horrific bloodbath carried out by a jealous, corpse-like old woman named Pearl who envies Maxine’s youth and carefree attitude. In a perfect employ of movie gimmicks, both Pearl and Maxine are played by Mia Goth. She is both the ambitious, fame-chasing girl, and the envious, distorted monster hellbent on destroying that.

Both X and Pearl are fantastic pastiches of films from the eras they’re set in (1970s and 1910s, respectively), while simultaneously being allegories for the monstrous beast that is fame. MaXXXine is no different, with plenty of enthusiastic nods to 80s slashers, Italian horror (AKA giallo), exploitation films and ‘video nasties‘. It’s a real hoot, and closes out West’s memorable trilogy with a bang.

Read: Pearl is a gory and glamorous masterpiece

Goth shines as Maxine, a true scream queen for the ages, as she struts around the Universal Studios lot, beats the crap out of neon-lit alleyway muggers, and snorts cocaine – so, so much cocaine – all while dressed in effortlessly cool outfits. But there’s no time to worry about her potentially crippling drug addiction, since Maxine is being targeted and blackmailed by a mysterious man who might just be the notorious serial killer known as the LA Night Stalker. And on top of that, she just booked her first ever Hollywood role on The Puritan II, and filming has already started. Can’t a girl catch a break?

Despite her best attempts to forget the past, someone has uncovered an incriminating VHS tape of Maxine on the set of the pornographic movie that turned into mass murder. Luckily her friend Leon (the magnetic Moses Sumney) owns a video rental store and can help her trace the source of the tape.

The dank, tightly-shelved store is a visual feast of both real and fake film titles, and is the perfect ‘home base’ point of the film: a space where all of Ti West’s reference points exist under one roof, sheltering our central characters from harm … or luring them into a false sense of security.

Kevin Bacon oozes sleaze as the private detective hired to blackmail Maxine and bring her to the mysterious stalker. He’s doing some really great voice work here that ensures he embodies that slimeball vibe. The chase sequence between him and Maxine in the Universal Studios lot, featuring recognisable sets from Back To The Future, Psycho, and more, is a campy highlight in a film full of campy highlights.

I must also mention Giancarlo Esposito, who is finally back to doing roles that aren’t just clones of Breaking Bad’s Gus Fring (who was a fantastic character, but pigeonholed Esposito into playing calm, calculating villains in suits for a long time). Here he plays Maxine’s agent and entertainment lawyer, Teddy Night, Esquire, whose signature look is a tracksuit, a blonde toupee, and a headset perma-glued to the side of his face. I can’t imagine the fun he must be having gobbling that character up.

Giancarlo Esposito as Teddy Knight in MaXXXine. Image: A24/Universal Pictures

I have seen the mixed reviews of this film, and understand the general consensus that Goth isn’t having as much fun playing Maxine as she did as Pearl, but I think the criticism that this film is ‘unwatchable’ is completely untrue. MaXXXine is as ambitious as its central character, aiming to be both a send-up of and love letter to 1980s films, and landing on a piece of work that’s all at once gory, hilarious, and intoxicating. I would happily watch it multiple times.

Lastly, there are plenty of easter eggs to spot for fans of X and Pearl (a particular shot featuring a ceramic goose made me cackle), but the film’s true connection to its predecessors is the theme of ‘killing the old to make way for the new’. Sometimes heavy-handed in its execution (but never unintentionally), MaXXXine brings that through-line to a satisfying conclusion.

MaXXXine is in cinemas from 11 July.


5 out of 5 stars



Mia Goth, Kevin Bacon, Elizabeth Debicki, Lily Collins, Giancarlo Esposito


Ti West

Format: Movie

Country: USA

Release: 11 July 2024

Silvi Vann-Wall is a journalist, podcaster, and filmmaker. They joined ScreenHub as Film Content Lead in 2022. Twitter: @SilviReports