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MaXXXine splatters across screen

Even those who never heard of its two prequels should get a hint about MaXXXine, spelled with an all caps triple X in the middle and starring a woman with the last name Goth. Sex and dark elements, along with barrels of blood, play significant roles in the third entry to writer/director Ti West’s ode to splatter films that incudes Pearl and X. Nodding frequently to movie history, West’s features highlight his eye for color, framing, and attention to detail, ranking his films a few cuts—often literally—above their splattery genre. He gets extra clout by teaming with actress Mia Goth, who joined scream queen royalty with a strong double performance in the single digit X and continues the trend with her triple X round. She plays porn star Maxine Minx, first introduced in X, which entered the splatter genre with its riff on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  MaXXXine moves her story ahead six years to 1985 Hollywood, ready to reach the next level of stardom in a non-porn film. But someone wants to stop her, slashing away at her cohorts in their sleezy, neon glazed sex districts during a time when the Night Stalker serial killer filled news stories. The real-life killer’s M.O. fits into the story, which almost by nature of its genre must go over the top with action that stretches credulity but looks impressive. Transforming warm fuzzy nostalgia into a litany of horror classics, writer-director West revels in mid-80s icons, filling his soundtrack with perfectly chosen songs like Z.Z. Top’s “Give Me All Your Lovin’” and throwing Friday the 13th alumni Kevin Bacon in the mix just for fun. A dedicated movie lover, West laces his film with what would qualify as “Easter Eggs,” if he bothered to hide them. Instead,

the eggs heat up in the open: the house from Psycho, a Chinatown nose job, Taxi Driver hairstyles, and a creepy gloved killer a la Bird with the Crystal Plumage join the mix.  The images reflect a perceptive director, one who takes a playful attitude towards a tacky topic.     

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