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What to Expect From ‘MaXXXine,’ the Final Movie in the ‘X’ Horror Trilogy: Not Your Typical Slasher 

What to Expect From MaXXXine the Final Movie in the X Horror Trilogy Not Your Typical Slasher  321
A24 Film

2022’s X introduced viewers to a new twist on a classic slasher, with scream queen Mia Goth stepping into dual roles as both final girl Maxine and serial killer Pearl. Now, MaXXXine — the final film in the franchise — will tie up the Ti West–directed trilogy that has left fans begging for more.

X — outside all of its bloody, gory fun — rose above the typical horror flick by taking an introspective look at the relationship between beauty and aging. The prequel that followed, Pearl, served as a unique character study for X’s main antagonist by unpacking the origin story of the homicidal maniac obsessed with reclaiming her youth. MaXXXine shifts the narrative back to Goth’s final girl role, picking up years after she escaped the throes of that remote Texas farmhouse where the action of X was set.

So what can fans expect? By X’s final moments, all of Maxine’s friends along with both of the killers are six feet under. Maxine has smashed Pearl’s head with a truck, while Pearl’s husband, Howard, died minutes earlier from a heart attack. But that doesn’t mean that Maxine’s ghosts won’t show up to haunt her when the final film picks back up in 1980s Los Angeles.

Although Maxine survived the intense experience, X hints that she chose not to report what happened to the authoritiesIn the film’s final scene, Sheriff Dentler (James Gaylyn) discovers the aftermath of the murders, including the tape of the group’s amateur film, The Farmer’s Daughter, which very likely could have found its way into the wrong hands.

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Now, with Maxine gearing up to embark on a legitimate acting career in a mid-range Hollywood horror film, The Puritan II, the lost tape could be a big problem as a private eye (Kevin Bacon) gets on her case and threatens to blow her cover. There’s also a satanic serial killer — possibly the notorious, real-life murderer Richard Ramirez, a.k.a The Night Stalker —  pursuing Max and her friends as his next victims.

Basically, it looks like Maxine’s past is coming back to haunt her, big time.

In addition to the inevitable kills and thrills, MaXXXine viewers should also prepare for plenty of odes to horror classics, including a reference to the infamous Bates Motel from Psycho, which is featured in the trailer.

Getting to film at the location, Goth told TIME magazine earlier this month, was one of the highlights of her career.

“When we finally got the green light and wound up there, it’s one of the coolest days I’ve had on set over the last 10 years. It was very special,” she told the outlet. “It had a particular vibe to it, a particular energy, there was just something in the air, and it had a way of informing those scenes that I hadn’t anticipated that was quite cool.”

West, for his part, was also hyped to be filming at such an iconic location. In fact, much of the film takes place on the Universal backlot.

“I always had in my head the idea of using a studio backlot as a backlot, having the fake town be the fake town,” he told Deadline in a July interview. “I always liked the idea of going from New York into the Old West and exposing that facade. It’s an idea I’ve had for a very long time, and this movie then appeared as a vessel for that.”

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He continued: “In X, they have a conversation about Psycho. For MaXXXine, I wrote [the scenes at the Psycho house] into the script, not sure if we’d ever get the permission to do it, but it was interesting for us to actually get to go and do it. It was very surreal, to be honest. It was fun being on the lot, but to actually photograph the Psycho house was a weird thing to do.”

As for why West — who serves as director, writer and producer on the trilogy — chose to return for a third film, it was about giving the story “a lot more scope” than its predecessors. However, like the others, it was also imperative to him that MaXXXine could serve as a standalone film if needed. (Our take? If you are headed to the theater for MaXXXine, watching Pearl will deepen the story. X, meanwhile, is imperative to even understanding the plot.)

[The movies are] enriched by each other, and it’s better if you see them all, but you don’t have to see them all,“ West explained. “By making them standalone movies, I didn’t want to just repeat the same beats over and over again.”

West noted that because all three movies take place in different “eras,” they are affected by the horror films of their time. “So, the natural progression was to then go to the ’80s and to have Maxine evolve as a character and be affected by the cinema of that era,” he said. “And that era was a more excessive era, which offered a different way into the story.”

West has claimed that MaXXXine will likely be the end of the X franchise but teased that there’s “always a chance” he could return to the concept down the road.

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“I’m very happy with the three movies,” he told Deadline. “I’m very proud of our collaboration on the three movies, and I do have some ideas about how to continue the universe that is X. But after working on it nonstop for so long … in about two weeks, it will be the first time I actually wake up in the morning and not find myself behind something related to the X franchise. So … I don’t know, we’ll see. I might want to take a beat and maybe go do something else, and then maybe one day come back to it.”

Goth, for her part, told TIME that although playing Maxine has offered “roles written for women that you really sometimes struggle to find elsewhere,” she’s officially “tapped out” of her scream queen era.

“I’d love to make a romantic movie,” she shared. “I’ve been so focused on this end of the spectrum of violence and gore, but I love love too.”

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