Photograph: Universal
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4 out of 5 stars

Ti West wraps his blood-splashed Mia Goth trilogy with a sexy and fun ’80s-set horror

Lou Thomas

Time Out says

Maxine Minx wants to be famous. It’s 1985 and this 32-year-old porn star with a secret past is looking to go legit in Hollywood. Her first step is bagging the lead role in ‘The Puritan II’, a slasher sequel with big feminist ideas helmed by tough British director Elizabeth Bender. Once Maxine aces the audition that opens this entertaining horror, surely the only way is up. That is, until her porno pals start getting murdered. Is it the night stalker that keeps appearing on panicked nightly TV news reports or someone closer to home?

With MaXXXine, writer-director Ti West concludes his Mia Goth horror trilogy (following X and Pearl) with a thrilling slasher that’s both fond neon tribute to the genre’s ’80s gory heyday and a brisk, smart look at the role of women and power in Hollywood. His star Goth again steals the show as the eponymous wannabe on the rise who survived the Texas film-shoot massacre in X, while others excel in chunky support roles. Elizabeth Debecki in particular is excellent as Bender, hard but nurturing, no one’s fool as she navigates the misogyny of the 1980s film biz. Giancarlo Esposito is her male equivalent as Maxine’s steadfast agent.

MaXXXine pays fond neon tribute to the slasher genre’s ’80s heyday

As the local body count increases in lurid, bloodthirsty fashion, LAPD detectives Williams (Michelle Monaghan) and Torres (Bobby Cannavale) pressure Maxine but get nowhere. She’s not one to spill her guts even while others are having theirs filleted. Besides, there’s sleazy New Orleans’ private dick John Labat (a deliciously oily Kevin Bacon, the most memorable he’s been for years) pestering her. He’s a better investigator and a bigger pain than the official plods, aggravating coked-up Maxine with phone calls, unwanted filming and in one exhilarating sequence, a film-set chase to the original house used in Psycho.

It sounds like sexy fun, and it mostly is. A third-act reveals falls slightly flat and hardened horror-watchers will grouse about its lack of a relentless brutal edge. But with a rollicking soundtrack full of ’80s faves like Frankie Goes to Hollywood and ZZ Top, bold, fluorescent sets and Hollywood locations and outsized performances, Maxxxine wraps up West’s trilogy in killer style.

In cinemas worldwide Jul 5.

Cast and crew

  • Director:Ti West
  • Screenwriter:Ti West
  • Cast:
    • Mia Goth
    • Kevin Bacon
    • Bobby Cannavale
    • Elizabeth Debicki
    • Michelle Monaghan
    • Lily Collins
    • Moses Sumney
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