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‘MaXXXine’ Director Concludes ‘X’ Trilogy Showcasing Hollywood’s Seedy ’80s – Karlovy Vary

Christmas has arrived early for fans of the horror genre with the release of “MaXXXine,” the third installment of a gripping horror trilogy that began in 2022 with “X.” Directed by Ti West, the series kicked off in the grim setting of the ’70s porn industry. Mia Goth stars prominently, portraying both Maxine Mink, the lead actress in a film titled “The Farmer’s Daughters,” and her antagonist, Pearl, a deranged elderly woman opposing the events unfolding on her Texan farm. The second film, “Pearl,” served as a prequel, with Goth reprising her role. For this latest installment, she returns to her role as Maxine Mink.

In the neon-drenched world of “MaXXXine,” Maxine emerges unscathed from the “Texas Porn-Shoot Massacre,” ready to launch a legitimate acting career in a Hollywood horror film called “The Puritan II.” Helmed by British director Elizabeth Bender, played by Elizabeth Debicki, Maxine’s path is soon complicated. A seedy private investigator, portrayed by Kevin Bacon, starts trailing her, threatening to expose her past. But that’s not the only danger she faces—a satanic serial killer, possibly the infamous Richard Ramirez, The Night Stalker, sets his sights on her friends within the sex-work industry.

The film delights fans with its playful take on 1980s culture, sporting big hair, neon lighting, and electro-pop hits like Animotion’s “Obsession.” It also dives into the era’s “Satanic Panic,” during which bands like Judas Priest were accused of embedding hidden satanic messages in their music. A notable moment in the film sees Maxine chased by Bacon’s character into a replica of the “Psycho” house on the Universal Studios lot, highlighting Ti West’s knack for subverting movie tropes.

As the gore spills and the plot thickens, it becomes evident that Hollywood itself might be the true villain, effectively summed up by a Bette Davis quote: “In this business, until you’re known as a monster, you’re not a star.” However, West remains non-committal on the deeper meaning behind his work, leaving its interpretation to the audience.

During an interview, Ti West revealed that the trilogy initially wasn’t meant to be one. The idea for “X” came first, followed by unexpected developments due to the pandemic, leading West to contemplate extending the series. With filming taking place in New Zealand, West suggested making a second movie while already on location, which resulted in the prequel, “Pearl.” Eventually, the concept of “MaXXXine” emerged during the production of “Pearl.”

West noted that while each film in the trilogy is enriched by the others, they stand alone in their narratives. The progression from the ’70s setting of “X” to the ’80s of “MaXXXine” allowed for diversification within the series, moving from one cinematic influence to another, ultimately giving each installment its unique flavor.

Reflecting on the ’80s, West shared his childhood experiences, revealing how the era’s pop culture, moral outcry surrounding heavy metal, and “Satanic Panic” influenced his work. His intention was to use this setting to enhance the horror and stakes within “MaXXXine.”

Maxine’s relentless ambition drives her character throughout the trilogy. Having reached the pinnacle of the adult film industry, her next goal is to break into mainstream Hollywood. Though other actresses have accomplished this transition, it remains a challenging task, underscored by the lingering stigma of her past roles.

Goth’s portrayal of Maxine has become second nature, allowing her to bring depth to the character without much direction. This deep understanding allowed her to navigate and embody the complexities of Maxine’s character, blending her own experiences and the scripted scaffolding provided by West.

A key element woven through “MaXXXine” is the quote from Bette Davis, symbolizing the harsh realities and strangeness of stardom. It encapsulates the toughness and monster-like resilience required to succeed in Hollywood, resonating profoundly within the film’s dark narrative.

The production of “MaXXXine” saw the crew having access to the Universal Studios lot, where they embraced the studio’s backlot for their scenes. This provided an opportunity to visually explore the facades of Hollywood and unearth the deeper themes associated with stardom and camouflage.

As the trilogy stands completed, West expresses satisfaction with the collaborative work and leaves open the possibility of future additions to the “X” universe. However, he hints at a desire to take a break and explore other genres before potentially revisiting the world he has meticulously built.

With “MaXXXine,” Ti West skillfully subverts traditional slasher and horror film tropes, ensuring that each installment feels fresh and avoids the repetitive beats often found in sequels. The trilogy’s standalone nature allows for rich, varied storytelling that resonates with audiences, leaving them intrigued and entertained.

Source: Deadline