Movie Reviews

MaXXXine Threatens To Repeat A Horror Mistake Made By A Show From 5 Years Ago

Summary

  • MaXXXine may glorify real-life killer Richard Ramirez, risking similar criticism to American Horror Story: 1984’s depiction.
  • The movie may rewrite history by having the heroine kill Ramirez to symbolize patriarchal oppression, a bold move if executed well.
  • Ti West’s slasher trilogy, including MaXXXine, shows promise but may need to handle the real-life killer storyline carefully.



Although MaXXXine looks like a promising end to director Ti West’s slasher trilogy, the upcoming horror movie runs the risk of repeating a horror TV show’s most regrettable mistake. Horror movies have a fraught relationship with reality. Some found footage horror mockumentaries, like The Blair Witch Project, became hits based on viewers assuming their stories were real. Others, like The Amityville Horror and The Conjuring, claimed to be based on real events despite taking sizable liberties with their inspirations. Finally, some horror movies, like the upcoming slasher MaXXXine, feature real-life people as characters and reference actual historical events.


MaXXXine will end the slasher trilogy that House of the Devil director Ti West started in 2022 with X. That farm-set slasher saw an adult production crew picked off by a pair of unhinged elderly killers. By the end of X’s prequel Pearl, one of these serial killers had become a tragic anti-villain as West revealed her surprisingly sympathetic backstory. Now, MaXXXine is set to pick up where X left off, with the title character attempting to make a name for herself in ‘80s Hollywood. This links into MaXXXine’s Night Stalker storyline, which could be a major mistake.

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Judging by the trailer’s revelations, MaXXXine runs the risk of depicting real-life killer Richard Ramirez as a campy slasher villain, just like American Horror Story: 1984. 1984’s romanticized depiction of the Night Stalker drew condemnation online for glamorizing the killer and turning his crimes into a silly slasher story. MaXXXine could potentially end up doing the same thing, judging by its goofy second trailer. Like both X and Pearl, MaXXXine’s trailer promises that the final movie in West’s trilogy will feature moments of dark comedy between its many murders. However, that may prove to be a problem for the sequel.


Unlike X and Pearl, MaXXXine’s plot centers on a real murderer. While American Horror Story’s real-life characters have always been handled questionably, the show’s depiction of Ramirez in 1984 was uniquely tacky. The murderer was portrayed as a charismatic charmer rather than the severely troubled murderer that Ramirez was in reality. Since MaXXXine’s trailer features gags about fake blood on movie sets and playful nods to the set of Psycho’s sequel, it looks like West’s movie will be closer in tone to that campy series than a more self-serious portrayal of serial killers like Mindhunter or 2006’s Zodiac.

MaXXXine Can Fix American Horror Story: 1984’s Biggest Mistake

Ti West’s Slasher Trilogy Is Surprisingly Smart

American Horror Story 1984's Richard Ramirez scowls in front of a blue background


Luckily, MaXXXine might still be able to avoid American Horror Story: 1984’s Night Stalker mistake, depending on how the movie handles the killer’s role. If MaXXXine’s heroine kills Ramirez, rewriting real-life history in the process, West’s movie may use the killer as a symbolic embodiment of the patriarchal oppression that Maxine and Pearl both railed against. This would ensure that the plot wasn’t exploitative or solely done for shock value, which could result in MaXXXine fixing American Horror Story: 1984’s biggest mistake. That said, changing real history would be a tricky, ambitious twist for MaXXXine to pull off.

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