Every X Movie In Ti West’s Trilogy, Ranked Worst To Best

Warning: Contains SPOILERS for X, Pearl, and MaXXXine!

Summary

  • The X Trilogy, consisting of X, Pearl, and MaXXXine, is a series of horror films created by Ti West. The first film, X, is a traditional horror film inspired by early slashers from the 1970s, focusing on a group of young adults who find themselves in a rural farmhouse being hunted down by an elderly couple. The film’s strong cast of characters and themes of sexuality make it a memorable entry in the genre.
  • The second film, Pearl, is a prequel to X, set in 1918 and following a younger version of the female killer from the first film. Pearl is the most stylistically unique of the three films, mimicking the style of early Technicolor films and blending horror with a cheery, family-friendly aesthetic. Mia Goth’s performance as the titular character is the standout of the trilogy, making Pearl the best entry in the series.
  • The third film, MaXXXine, updates the 1980s Los Angeles setting and focuses on the serial killers and porn industry of the time. While it starts off strong, the final act falls apart with an unbelievable twist ending and a police shootout that feels out of place compared to the rest of the film. The themes of desiring fame

With the release of MaXXXine, Ti West’s X trilogy has come to a close, and here is every movie in the series ranked worst to best. Starting with X in 2022, Ti West’s horror trilogy took viewers on a decades-spanning journey that explored the horrors and violence that could come about from desires to attain fame, with the story of Maxine Minx and Pearl having a lot of interesting parallels. While each film in Ti West’s X trilogy is good, some are better than others, and here is a complete ranking of each one from worst to best.

Ti West’s X horror trilogy is much more than a simple series of slasher films, as it is an interesting exploration of how film in its different form has impacted the world throughout its history. Each film in Ti West’s X trilogy pays homage to a different era of film, and while X, Pearl, and MaXXXine are all tonally and narratively distinct from each other, this common theme and a few common characters link the trilogy together. MaXXXine wrapped up the story that was first kicked off in X, and now it’s time for a retrospective on which film was best.

3 MaXXXine

75% on Rotten Tomatoes

MaXXXine Film Poster MaXXXine RHorrorCrime ScreenRant logo

In 1980s Hollywood, adult film star and aspiring actress Maxine Minx lands her big break, but her rise to stardom is jeopardized by a mysterious killer targeting starlets. As the body count rises, secrets from Maxine’s past threaten to surface, intertwining her quest for fame with a deadly game of survival.

Director Ti West Release Date July 5, 2024 Writers Ti West Cast Mia Goth , Elizabeth Debicki , Moses Sumney , Michelle Monaghan , Bobby Cannavale , Lily Collins , Halsey , Giancarlo Esposito Runtime 103 Minutes Main Genre Horror Expand

MaXXXine is the third and final film in Ti West’s X trilogy, and out of the three films, it turned out to be the worst one. MaXXXine acts as a direct sequel to X, the first film in the series, with it following X protagonist Maxine Minx as she heads to Hollywood in an attempt to continue her pursuit of stardom. After scoring a major role in a highly-anticipated sequel, Maxine’s past comes back to haunt her, with a shadowy figure and a PI seemingly threatening to expose her role in the massacre on Howard and Pearl’s farm to the world.

Like the other films in the X trilogy, MaXXXine is a homage to a specific period of film, with it being a tribute to the video nasties and direct-to-video horror B-movies of the 1980s. This updated 1980s Los Angeles setting breathes a new life into the X trilogy, with the constant 80s music, neon lights, and crowded LA streets making MaXXXine feel much bigger than its predecessors. Moving away from the rural farm settings and focusing on the serial killers and porn industry of the 1980s was a great idea, with it making the first two acts of the film fantastic.

However, MaXXXine really falls apart in the final act, where it is revealed that the shadowy figure who has been trailing Maxine is actually her evangelical father who was first teased in X. This twist ending is completely unbelievable, as he then kidnaps Maxine and brings her to his religious cult where they hope to make a movie that purportedly features a real-life exorcism. While this could have been an interesting commentary on the Satanic Panic, the reveal and ensuing police shootout is far too goofy for MaXXXine, with it feeling jarringly different from the first hour of the film.

The themes of desiring fame and religious oppression were present in both X and Pearl, and while MaXXXine makes these issues much more integral parts of its story than its predecessor, it seems to have much less to say. In the attempt to mimic the violence and style of the 1980s B-horror movies that MaXXXine is homaging, it loses the soul of what made the first two X movies great. There isn’t much left to think about when the credits roll, as MaXXXine‘s commentary on the dark side of attaining fame has been explored so many times before.

If MaXXXine‘s third act had lived up to the first two, the new setting, fast pace, and grander scale could have led to it being just as good as its predecessors in the X trilogy. However, the climax and resolution of the film was a real disappointment, leaving a lot to be desired from the final moments of the X trilogy. In an attempt to tie MaXXXine‘s story back into the reveal of Maxine’s religious upbringing from the ending of X, MaXXXine completely falls apart, with it adding too much camp to the one aspect of the X trilogy that should have been played straight.

Mia Goth as Pearl from Pearl and Mia Goth as Maxine Minx from MaXXXine Related MaXXXine’s Sharp Rotten Tomatoes Score Drop After X & Pearl’s 90% Successes Explained

MaXXXine is the third entry in Ti West’s X trilogy, but it may also be the worst of the three considering its drop in Rotten Tomatoes score.

2 X

94% on Rotten Tomatoes

X (2022) RHorror Where to Watch

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Director Ti West presents X, a horror slasher film set in 1979 in rural Texas that follows a group of amateur filmmakers attempting to shoot a pornographic film. When the group gets further along in the film, and the elderly homeowners take notice, they slowly realize they’ve drawn their formerly gracious hosts’ ire – and jealously.

Director Ti West Release Date March 18, 2022 Studio(s) A24 Distributor(s) A24 Writers Ti West Cast Martin Henderson , Mia Goth , Jenna Ortega , Stephen Ure , Scott Mescudi , Brittany Snow , Owen Campbell Runtime 105 minutes Budget $1 million Expand

Ti West’s X was the first film in the X trilogy, and it is what kicked off the events that lead to the prequel film Pearl and the sequel film MaXXXine. X follows a small adult film crew who travels to a farm in rural Texas, not telling farm owners Howard and Pearl about their intentions to shoot a pornographic film while they are there. After learning about what is truly going down, the elderly couple picks off the adult film crew one by one, with a massive amount of dead bodies piling up by the end of X‘s massacre.

X is the most traditional horror film in Ti West’s X trilogy, with it clearly being inspired by the early slashers of the 1970s. X was clearly influenced heavily by The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, with the story of a group of young adults finding a rural farmhouse only to be picked off by a strange family being shared by both films. However, this isn’t a bad thing, as the grounded and smaller-scale horror story was a breath of fresh air, acting as a throwback among many more complex and higher-stakes mainstream horror flicks.

The strongest part of X is its cast of characters, as unlike many other slasher films, each member of the main cast is a memorable addition with something interesting going on. Despite most of the characters in X‘s cast ending up dead by the end of the movie, they are still beloved, with additions like Jenna Ortega’s Lorraine, Brittany Snow’s Bobby-Lynne, Scott Mescudi’s Jackson Hole, and the rest of the characters being a ton of fun. The main cast of X is much bigger than the subsequent two films, with it being the strongest roster of the trilogy.

Like many other early slasher films that inspired X, X heavily focuses on themes of sexuality, especially that of its female characters. X is more blatant in its exploration of this topic than some other popular films that have tackled it, as the killers Howard and Pearl are textually punishing the adult film crew for their engagement in sex and the creation of pornographic films. This concept reaches a peak when it is revealed that Maxine comes from a conservative religious upbringing, a masterful setup that is kneecapped in MaXXXine‘s ending.

Due to the nature of X being the first film in Ti West’s X trilogy, it is a little more stylistically generic than its two follow-ups. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as being a straightforward slasher with strong characters is all X needed to be in order to be remembered as a great modern horror film. X is made better by its follow-ups, expanding on the world, themes, and characters in a way that makes X even better on a rewatch.

Mia Goth in MaXXXine Related MaXXXine Ending Explained

The ending of MaXXXine serves as a fitting if quietly ambiguous finale to the X trilogy, even while leaving room open for further sequel expansion.

1 Pearl

92% on Rotten Tomatoes

Pearl Movie Poster New Pearl RHorror Where to Watch

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Mia Goth returns as Pearl, the titular killer with dreams of being a star but is resigned to a life as a caretaker on her family’s farm. Pearl desperately yearns for a Hollywood life, but her devout mother and ailing father keep her grounded in a life she doesn’t want. When a talent recruitment group comes to her small town, she decides to try her luck and show off her “X” factor. However, to get what she wants, her dark tendencies get the better of her, sending her on a path of carnage to escape to a life of stardom. 

Director Ti West Release Date September 16, 2022 Studio(s) A24 Distributor(s) A24 Writers Ti West , Mia Goth Cast Mia Goth , David Corenswet , Tandi Wright , Matthew Sunderland , Emma Jenkins-Purro Runtime 102 minutes Budget $1 million Expand

Of the three films in Ti West’s X trilogy, the second film Pearl was the most controversial upon its initial release, but it has turned out to be the best of the three. Pearl acts as a prequel to X, with it being set in 1918 and following a much younger version of the female killer from X. In the film, Pearl wants nothing more than to escape her secluded farm and become a star, although her repressive surroundings cause her desires to break out in much more terrifying and violent ways.

Although Pearl is a semi-generic killer with some humanity in X, she is transformed into the strongest character from throughout the trilogy in Pearl. Pearl perfectly sets up the woman that the titular protagonist becomes in the first film, with her desires for fame and an escape from her surroundings paralleling that of X and MaXXXine protagonist Maxine Minx. Mia Goth plays both Pearl and Maxine in the X trilogy, with this brilliant casting choice creating an even stronger thematic tie between the two characters.

Compared to X and MaXXXine, Pearl is the most stylistically unique of the three films, with it not being a direct homage to a specific genre of horror. Instead, Pearl mimics the style of early Technicolor films and beloved family classics like The Wizard of Oz, although the violence and horror elements create a unique blend of styles and genres that can’t be found anywhere else. This is what makes Pearl so special, as it creates a new form of uncomfortably cheery horror that would be incredibly difficult to get to work with nearly any other story.

Mia Goth’s performance as Pearl is the most impressive performance in the trilogy, as the entire film rides on her take on a cheery farmgirl who wishes to be a star. Mia Goth’s performance in Pearl’s eight-minute monologue at the end of the film is absolutely incredible, with it easily being the best scene in the entire trilogy. Despite her being a crazed murderer, Mia Goth still manages to make the audience feel bad for Pearl, something that carries over into X.

Although Pearl is the least traditional horror film, it is the best entry in Ti West’s X trilogy, with it most likely to remain the most iconic of the three years down the road. Pearl is one of the best entries in the filmographies of Ti West and Mia Goth, and it acts as one of the best franchise prequels ever. While MaXXXine and X are still really good films, they can’t compare to how great Pearl is.

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