The big question surrounding Maxxine has always been whether or not director Ti West could round out this trilogy with one more brilliant film. West has stunned fans of genre cinema over the past few years with his ‘homage’ films X and Pearl. And when I say stunned… I mean stunned.

I don’t think of us who sat down to watch X back in 2022 thought we would be walking away knowing that we had just seen one of the best horror films of the past decade. The film was supposed to be a homage to the almost softcore porn horrors of the 1970s and 1980s and West did something kind of brilliant with it. Then came Pearl which went a step further as it mixed the Golden Age of Hollywood with horror and continued West’s cautionary tale of young actresses with dreams of stardom.

Now comes Maxxine which is technically West’s homage to the trashy yet brutal 1970s and 1980s crime thriller that normally went straight to VHS in Australia. They were video nasties and those of us who loved them liked them that way.

This time West’s heroine is Maxine Minx (Mia Goth – Infinity Pool) a young actress who has dreamed of stardom ever since she used to perform for her father, Ernest (Simon Prast – When Love Comes Along), and his Church as a little girl.

Now Maxine finds herself as a recognisable face in the adult film industry but her dreams of stardom seem to take another step forward when she wins over director Elizabeth Bender (Elizabeth Debicki – The Great Gatsby) during an audition for her new horror film.

Elated at the news Maxine decides to celebrate the good news by having a video night with her best friend, cult film tragic and video store owner, Leon (Moses Sumney – Creed) and that is when the ‘horror’ begins.

Maxine’s joy is interrupted when a video tape is left on her doorstep by PI John Labat (Kevin Bacon – Wild Things) that reveals a dark secret from Maxine’s past. Soon Labat confronts her and says that he wants her to meet with his client who needs to talk to her and around the same time Maxine is confronted by Detective Williams (Michelle Monaghan – Gone Baby Gone) and Detective Torres (Bobby Cannavale – Ant-Man) who have questions about the disappearance of two of her colleagues – which has pretty much be blamed on Hollywood’s resident serial killer The Night Stalker.

Instead of turning to them for help though Maxine decides to turn to her agent/entertainment lawyer Teddy Night Esq. (Giancarlo Esposito – The Usual Suspects) which leads to some deadly results.

There is little doubt that Maxine will divide audiences. If you aren’t a fan of the 1970s and 1980s thriller nasties that West is playing to homage here than you may find yourself struggling with what some may call the ‘badness’ of the film. What they don’t realise is that side characters over-acting and unbelievable out there endings are a trait of these nasties and to not include them in Maxine would mean that West was doing a disservice to the genre that he is trying to re-create.

Storywise Maxxxine does hold up and West’s screenplay makes Maxine as a character interesting enough to carry the entire film but where I feel that the film does slip up a little is that dodges some of the aspects of the video nasties in an attempt to allow the film to appeal to a modern day audience. While there are a few ‘shock’ moments throughout the film it feels like the violence and softcore porn feel of these old films is often not played up as much as it should have been… still credit must be paid to West because he has done a pretty good job making what probably should be called a modern day nastie.

Fans of genre cinema will also find some nice nostalgic moments throughout the film – such as Bender taking Maxine to visit the Psycho set and Maxine later running through the town square that has become famous for Back To The Future, Gilmore Girls and Pretty Little Liars. If West was trying to remind his audience what a movie and TV show tragic he has certainly achieved that.

Again the true power of this film though comes from the performance of Mia Goth. She is a very big reason why X and Pearl where such amazing films and here she once again puts in a stellar performance where she delivers no matter what situation West puts her in. Credit must also be paid to Kevin Bacon and Bobby Cannavale who take the directive of over-acting to the absolute extreme but in a way that pays tribute to the actors that made this genre so special in the first place.

Like a film like Once Upon A Time In Hollywood Maxine is a film that has been made for true fans of cult cinema. Yes, there is a ‘badness’ edge to the film but that is deliberate and that is what is going to win over fans of a genre that we thought was long gone.

4/5 Stars