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  • Writer's pictureStephen Yanni

MaXXXine - (2024) - Blood in the Hollywood Hills

Rating: ★★½☆☆ (2.5/5 Stars)

Released 07-05-2024

Watched 07-05-2024

Reviewed 07-09-2024

Watched in the theater Using Cinemark Movie Club

"Do you want a bit of free advice? Look around you. You've made it to the belly of the beast, congratulations, very few come this far. To stay here, you must make it your obsession. Eliminate all other distractions, because if you take your eye off that prize for even a moment, the beast will spit you right back out where you came from. May never get a taste for you again."

Ti West’s “MaXXXine,” the third installment in his X film series, attempts to blend the slasher genre with a nostalgic 1980s Hollywood setting. Starring Mia Goth as Maxine Minx, the film follows her pursuit of fame while being targeted by a mysterious killer. The cast includes notable names such as Elizabeth Debicki, Moses Sumney, Michelle Monaghan, Bobby Cannavale, Halsey, Lily Collins, Giancarlo Esposito, and Kevin Bacon. Yet, despite the star-studded ensemble, the film struggles to find its footing.

Set in 1985 Los Angeles, “MaXXXine” starts with Maxine auditioning for the lead role in a new horror film, “The Puritan II,” despite her past credits being exclusively in adult films. Maxine declines invitations to parties from her friends, choosing to focus on her career. However, her past catches up with her when a mysterious figure leaves a VHS tape of an old porn film she made, leading to a series of gruesome murders branded with Satanic symbols.

Maxine’s journey becomes more perilous when she encounters John Labat, a private investigator who threatens to expose her past unless she meets his employer. The film attempts to build tension with multiple subplots involving LAPD detectives, Maxine’s agent, and a cat-and-mouse chase with Labat. Unfortunately, these elements feel disjointed and fail to create a cohesive narrative.

While Mia Goth delivers a strong performance as Maxine, embodying her character’s desperation and determination, the weak script and slow pacing undermine her efforts. The film’s climax, involving a showdown with Maxine’s estranged televangelist father, Ernest Miller, feels more like a B-movie than a polished Hollywood thriller. Miller’s plan to frame Hollywood for promoting a sinful life and his subsequent confrontation with Maxine at the Hollywood sign lacks the impact and suspense that the film aims for.

The film’s production values are commendable, with authentic 1980s set designs and costumes, but these visual elements cannot compensate for the lack of engaging storytelling. Despite their talent, the supporting cast is underutilized, with characters that feel more like plot devices than fully fleshed-out individuals.

For fans of the X series, “MaXXXine” might still hold some appeal, especially in terms of continuity and character development. However, it’s not essential viewing and is best saved for streaming rather than a theater outing. The film’s slow start, weak story, and predictable ending make it a disappointing follow-up to its predecessors.

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