#VicksFlicks Special Edition: The ‘X’ Trilogy

Brandon Vick reviews all three films in the 'X' Trilogy - from 'X' to 'Pearl' to MaXXXine' - all here!

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X

3.5 out of 5 stars

After almost a decade of being out of the horror movie game, writer/director Ti West is back and running buckwild with this stylish throwback thriller that’s gory, funny, and horny as hell. Fans of the genre will pick up what he’s putting down, having a grand ole time bare witnessing some truly certifiable, WTF happenings. There’s no doubt this is made with love for the 70s and 80s slasher classics, looking, feeling, and practically smelling like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th. Even so, it’s a different kind of breed with West’s originality and certitude splattered across every scene.

Girls rule this one with solid performances from Brittany Snow and Jenna Ortega, but it’s Mia Goth who takes the cake in a horrendous dive into sex, love, religious fixation, and youth being wasted on the young. Nudity, sadistic kills, a slick soundtrack – what’s not to enjoy?! West blatantly showing us to not take this so seriously is X’s best move. Cracking up while cringing is what it’s all about.

PEARL

2.5 out of 5 stars

An absorbing though slightly stagnant psychological horror prequel that serves as a decent companion to X, yet should in no way be compared. If you make such a mistake, I’m quite positive you will leave disappointed because writer/director Ti West totally changes it up from what audiences first experienced in Pearl’s predecessor. His distinctive storytelling invokes the Golden Age of Hollywood when witnessing Pearl’s dreams and aspirations slowly die on the farm she so desperately wants to escape but never will. Her sickness can’t be contained and we already know she’s not going to get better.

The bottom line is it’s simply not as fun as X. Presented in pretty technicolor, it’s still sadistic and outrageous, but this murderous origin story does come across as lifeless at times. There’s a lack of dark humor and the violence and gore is really held back until the end. However, West’s muse and co-writer, Mia Goth, is tremendous. Her brilliantly chilling yet empathetic portrayal of young Pearl bolsters the film to a great degree. The character’s nightmarish downward spiral is terrifying to watch, culminating with a staggering one-shot monologue that’s hands down one of the best scenes in horror.

MAXXXINE

3 out of 5 stars

It’s famous vs. infamous as Ti West’s bold horror slasher trilogy concludes in unexpectedly familiar fashion. With each film being a genuine, loving tribute to a different cinematic era – this throwback is for the pulpy, 80s giallo noir admirers. The look, the vibe, the music – it’s everything you could dream of as West does his thing unlike anyone else. He doesn’t disappoint with his individualistic style and vision that impresses each and every time.

Where he does let us down is the story. It’s surprisingly standard, straightforward stuff that feels rather weak considering the culmination of everything that’s led us to this moment. Not only does it feel hollow, but the thrills and kills don’t exactly excite like they should, either. But just like with the two previous films, this one struts with immense spunk and flourishes from lively pastiche that will forever separate this trilogy from countless others in a genre that’s seen it all thousands of times before.

Of course, there’s always the guarantee of Mia Goth, delivering yet again a magnificent, memorable performance. As our heroine from X, she shines like a diamond in a sordid Hollywood rough while driving home the themes that X and Pearl brilliantly and beautifully brought to light – all along having some blood-splattering fun while doing it. The supporting cast surrounding Goth is superb with Kevin Bacon being the best as a sleazy and pompous private detective.

Even after an ending that’s not all that shocking and falls short of being totally satisfying, that fucked-up fascination we have had since X never really leaves us in MaXXXine. The glitz, grittiness, glamour, and nastiness West and Goth have exposed us to won’t soon be forgotten.

Brandon Vick is a member of The Music City Film Critics’ Association and the Southeastern Film Critics Association, the resident film critic of the SoBros Network, and the star of The Vick’s Flicks Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @SirBrandonV and be sure to search #VicksFlicks for all of his latest movie reviews.

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