Maxxxine Ending Explained

MaXXXine genuinely concludes the horror trilogy that writer-director Ti West began with X, it does represent the conclusion of the trek for fame that Mia Goth’s eponymous Maxine embarked on. This third installment, which jumps years into the future to take us to the sleaziest corners of 1980s Hollywood, is also, alas, the weakest of the five. Whereas the first two featured a plethora of references, this one delves deeply into them and emerges with little to show. Nowhere is this more evident than at the climax, when a twist is revealed that the film had been kicking you in the head about the entire time. Even though there is a lot of imagery borrowed from classic films like Chinatown and Psycho, MaXXXine is unable to shape this into anything serious by the time it reaches the final curtain. It all ends with a whimper rather than a bang.

To explore the emptiness of it all, one needs proceed all the way to the finale, which comes after what appears to be many ending points, even though we already know the identity of the shadowy killer and his plans, which have all been revealed. However, this is not The Lord of the Rings, as MaXXXine is simply too scattered and shallow to provide any long-term return. If this is all new to you and you haven’t seen the film yet, proceed with caution because this essay will spoil the entire experience.

The first thing that must be stated is that there is no truly effective reveal in the film that was not foreshadowed in the very first scene. We witness Maxine chatting with her devout father from a young age, who, it turns out, instilled in her the credo of never accepting anything less than the life she deserves. Wouldn’t you know it, the strange man is her father, who has followed her down after all these years and intends to kill her and those around her as part of his biblically motivated murder spree. This isn’t so horrible in idea as it is in implementation, with the devil being in the specifics of how it all plays out in the ostensibly climax sequence. Essentially, the pitiful father ties Maxine up and appears to plan to kill her on TV unless she cooperates with his bogus exorcism. This is then interrupted by the two cops, played by Michelle Monaghan and Bobby Cannavale, who had been wandering around in the film doing very little actual investigating that didn’t involve them attempting to persuade Maxine to assist them. A shooting erupts, and both are slain, leaving Maxine to face her father alone under the lights of the Hollywood sign.

We then jump forward to observe her fame and success, which are supposed to come after this, before flashing back to see her shoot his head to smithereens with a shotgun. That’s the end, correct? Nope, as we move on to see Maxine and her director Elizabeth (Elizabeth Debicki) back on set for the horror movie within the movie that they had planned to work on together. They observe a moment of quiet for the film’s former star, a strange yet potentially darkly comical dig at how this meaningless gesture masks how little they seemed to care about the deaths before it was someone prominent, before rapidly returning to work. We then see Maxine’s character’s fake severed head while she and Elizabeth talk. The former then muses on how she has always longed to be someone different before the camera pulls back and up, leaving behind the gritty environment of Hollywood in which we had spent the whole film. It appears to be an attempt to end on a more sombre tone, but it is too abrupt to have much meaning.

Perhaps there is some symbolism in Maxine becoming simply another dead star on screen in the shape of the severed head, but it’s difficult to give the film much credit for this given how little attention was paid to her emotional journey. Sure, she was given a one-note trauma narrative, but the film never appeared to go deeply into the depravity of how this profession could chew people up and then spit them out beyond the broad strokes. As we all drift out into the wide reaches of space, one could argue that this is West’s attempt to convey something of the true beauty of genuine stars by juxtaposing the ugly planet below with the peaceful vibrancy of the galaxy. However, in execution, it feels airless and weightless. If only we’d seen Nathan Fielder of The Curse floating around in the thick of it all. That would have been an absolutely wonderful finish.

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