Ti West and Mia Goth's X trilogy as a whole is somewhat tricky to define. What started as a subversive slasher depicting the "Texas Porn Star Massacre" in X jumped back in time to reveal the star-driven origins of its murderous, elderly villains with Pearl, only to then jump back to the 80s for the newly released Maxxxine, tying together the central threads of Mia Goth's titular final girl and how she copes with the trauma of survival.

Horror genre fans are no stranger to untraditional sequels (boy do they love to defy tradition), but taking that a step further, Ti West made a name for himself with his trademark slow burn pastiche executed to perfection in House of the Devil and The Inkeepers. Working within his first set of sequels, its no surprise he upped the ante to take Maxxxine a step further and subvert on another layer.

Maxxxine isn't with out its slasher influences, nods, and winks of course. That being said, if we examine it through a strictly analytical level would it still be considered a traditional "slasher" film, structurally or otherwise? I personally think not, and its all the better for it. Where X is more in conversation with Tobe Hooper, Maxxxine is more in conversation with Brian De Palma and Roman Polanksi (Pearl is a different ball game, but that's for another article).

Let's break down Maxxxine from a structural perspective and explore its genius use of genre pastiche.

Beware, spoilers for Maxxxine follow!

Reliance on Off-Screen Kills

Is 'Maxxxine' a Slasher or a Satirical Horror Noir?



Don't get me wrong, Maxxxine isn't without it's visceral on-screen violence. But something that stuck out to me was that most of the kills from the central "slasher" villain happened off screen, and we only see the investigation of the murders afterward.

There is one exception in Maxine's super cool, video store clerk friend Leon (Moses Sumney, R.I.P. king), but otherwise most of the carnage is lightly scattered throughout in other ways. We have Maxine and co. creatively taking care of Kevin Bacon's John Labat, some gnarly visuals and atmospheric scares from Maxine's traumatic past, some cultish fun, and then of course that wild climactic shootout.

But, as far as tradition slasher villain-victim kills? Very light to near absent. Atmospherically the slasher essence is extremely present with the constant reminder of The Night Stalker haunting 1980's Los Angeles, but his actually presence is predominately abstract outside of some, well, general night stalking and close-ups of clenched leather gloves.

Which leads us to...

The Misdirection of Richard Ramirez

Is 'Maxxxine' a Slasher or a Satirical Horror Noir?



In perhaps the biggest twist West layers into Maxxxine, the killer at large haunting Maxine isn't Richard Ramirez at all, but the preacher heavily featured on Pearl and Howard's TV screen in X—also revealed at the end of X to be her dear old dad.

While it could be argued this is a bit of a stretch, I personally love this choice as a tongue-in-cheek way to tie the thread together between this trilogy. It's not only thematically relevant that Maxine's father's pressure to be somebody lead her to the porn industry, but also that a power hungry corrupt priest as the central villain is pretty perfect for this franchise. I also couldn't help think of Scream 3 with the Hollywood-baked familial reveal, but hey, maybe that's just me.

The misdirection also adds another layer to the central mystery of it all. I think we all knew deep down Richard Ramirez wasn't going to make an appearance, so it added a layer of noir to the central plot—who is this cultish organization, and why are they directly targeting Maxine so far away from site of The Texas Pornstar Massacre (Pearl's house!) It's a fun added layer that works as a nice bow, and also explains Kevin Bacon's fiendish, expertly acted John Labat character as the inverse detective at the heart of this satirical noir.

De Palma, Polanksi, and Kevin Bacon's John Labat

Kevin Bacon in Maxxxine



More than any other Ti West movie, there's a heavy presence of investigators and detectives in Maxxxine—save the Texas-fried police department at the bookends of X, of course.

We have our sleezy, aforementioned private investigator John Labat, as well as our more heroic detectives in Detective Williams and Torres (Michelle Monaghan and Bobby Cannavale—they care!). Considering noir is so often revolving around someone in one of these particular fields, or a a wannabe sleuth to some degree, it's hard to ignore that this wasn't a somewhat intentional choice made by West to tie together this idea of a satirical, blood soaked noir.

One visual connection in particular is Labat's nose bandage that happens to look an awful lot like a certain Chinatowncharacter we all know and love. Also, as I mentioned before, Labat's character archetype is something of an inverse, corrupt noir hero on a mission for all the wrong reasons, which such a fun subversion to add to the lore of this franchise and further cements Ti West's playful intentions with Maxxxine.

Last but not least, it's hard to ignore the visual references reminiscent of Brian De Palma noirs like Body Double, Blow Out, and Dressed to Kill. Everything from neon soaked extreme close-ups to dual screen action is at play here, as well as the general menacing undertone at play in many of De Palma's more noir-oriented fairs. In many ways De Palma defined the idea of "horror noir", and West is clearly not one to shy away from honoring his influences in any of his craft-fully made films.

Any hot takes on Maxxxine and our genre breakdown? Feel free to let us know, okay.