Monday, July 22, 2024
FIlm

MaXXXine Review: Excellent Cast Elevates Nostalgic Horror Sequel

Mia Goth as Maxine and Giancarlo Esposito as Teddy Knight, Esq. (Photo courtsey of A24)

Directed by Ti West

Starring: Mia Goth, Elizabeth Debicki, Moses Sumney, Halsey, Lily Collins, Giancarlo Esposito and Kevin Bacon

MaXXXine, one of the most anticipated sequels to the acclaimed horror film X, arrives steeped in 80s nostalgia, with Mia Goth returning in rare form. While the film delivers genuine scares, gory action sequences, and a rogues’ gallery of colorful characters, one flaw prevents me from ranking it near-perfect. More details will follow in my review.

Top-notch Acting from Lead and Supporting Cast

Goth, a versatile actress, seamlessly embodies Maxine once more, a character with a complex past stemming from her experiences in the first film “X” and an unwavering determination to transition from her adult film career to a legitimate Hollywood star. She delivers another compelling performance, particularly in a monologue during her character’s audition for the horror film, The Puritan II, which she hopes will redefine her career. Since surviving the massacre at the farmhouse, Maxine has become more hardened, fearless, and acclimated to the rough streets of 1985 Hollywood, where the Night Stalker terrorizes the city.

Joining Goth is a stellar cast, starting with Kevin Bacon, who portrays a delightfully despicable private investigator hired by his obsessive client to track down and capture Maxine. Every time he appears on screen, he delivers agonizing quips and remains in relentless pursuit of Maxine on the set of The Puritan II. His character is one I love to hate—a pure asshole I would eagerly watch Bacon portray in a standalone film. His previous roles, like Detective Bobby Hayes in R.I.P.D and Captain Cade Grant in the Netflix hit Beverly Hills: Axel F, align well with this persona.

Giancarlo Esposito delivers a charismatic and sophisticatedly over-the-top performance as Teddy Knight, Esq., a menacing entertainment lawyer for Maxine and other porn stars. He effortlessly transitions from charismatic wheeler-dealer to a serious figure not to be trifled with, making each moment he’s on-screen captivating and impactful.

Another standout is Elizabeth Debicki as Elizabeth Bender, the work-focused director of The Puritan II. Her eerie demeanor and unwavering focus amidst the series of murders surrounding the film add depth to the story. She navigates through scenes filled with fake blood and murder with unshaken composure.

Others in Maxine’s social circle include Tabby, played by singer Halsey, Maxine’s encouraging friend and fellow adult film star. Moses Sumney portrays Maxine’s confidant, a movie buff and video rental employee who serves as the film savant.

Mia Goth as Maxine (Photo courtsey of A24)

Craftsmanship in Set Design, Editing, and More

The film’s standout feature is its dedication to the vintage aesthetic. The soundtrack serves as a heartfelt homage to 80s synth-pop, perfectly complementing the meticulously designed sets and costumes that transported me back to the 80s.

Ti West once again demonstrates his editing prowess, maintaining visual allure and capturing the essence of 80s horror. The practical special effects, though limited, deliver the necessary gruesome impact expected from this series.

The storyline itself delves into the dark side of fame, exploring themes of exploitation and relentless ambition. The dialogue is sharp and laced with dark humor, which I find commendable.

However, MaXXXine stumbles in its final act. The climax takes a predictable twist, followed by another that detracts from the film’s impact. An alternative ending could have left a stronger impression, leaving me somewhat unsatisfied.

Conclusion

Overall, MaXXXine delivers a thrilling, nostalgic journey filled with gore and exceptional performances that grasp the horror genre’s tropes. While the finale left me with a slight sting, the film’s strengths far outweigh its weaknesses. For enthusiasts of vintage horror and fans of Ti West’s direction coupled with Mia Goth’s captivating presence, MaXXXine is a worthwhile watch, albeit best approached with slightly tempered expectations. Final Score: 7/10. Personally, Pearl remains my favorite in the series, followed by MaXXXine and then “X”. Catch MaXXXine in theaters now!

Dapper Dr Feel

Felipe Patterson aka Dapper Dr. Feel, #BlackLoveConvo & Entertainment | @fdapperdr Dapper Dr. Feel is a Entertainment journalist and member of the Critics Choice Association and African American Film Association.

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