A star is born: “MaXXXine” ending pictures a possible future for Ti West's horror trilogy

The filmmaker said he wanted to give his three films a proper conclusion, but you can see where the story could go from here.

Warning: This article contains spoilers from MaXXXine.

It's currently unclear if director Ti West will continue the saga that began with 2022's X, continued through prequel film Pearl, and supposedly concluded with this year's MaXXXine — all three of which became sensations among horror lovers. The filmmaker spoke in the past about wanting to deliver a proper conclusion to the Mia Goth-led trilogy, which began with an aspiring porn actress fighting to achieve her dream of stardom while also fighting off a couple of murderers. At the same time, West seems to be leaving the door open.

"I'm fairly confident that this will probably be the end of the Maxine era," West previously told Entertainment Weekly of MaXXXine, now playing in theaters. "I do have one idea that plays into these movies that could maybe happen, but I don't know if it'll be next."

West says he's been working on these three movies "12 hours a day, seven days a week for three-and-a-half years," so he's extremely eager to take a breather and figure out next steps. "There is a sort of asterisk idea that it could not be the end, but whether that's something I'm doing right away or not, I'm not totally sure yet. I need to at least sleep for a couple days," he continued. "I'll say that, if there's more to be done in the X franchise, it's certainly not what people are expecting it to be. It's not just picking up again a few years later. It's not something like that. It's different in the way that Pearl was an unexpected departure. It's another unexpected departure."

<p>A24</p> Mia Goth as Maxine Minx in 'MaXXXine'


Mia Goth as Maxine Minx in 'MaXXXine'

Related: MaXXXine's Mia Goth, Ti West look back on carving a hit horror trilogy: 'I find it quite emotional'

Details aren't currently known, but we have some ideas after watching that MaXXXine ending in theaters — particularly around a few specific nuggets.

MaXXXine takes place in 1985 Los Angeles, just six years after the events of X, which saw Goth's Maxine and her amateur porn crew renting out space at a rural farmhouse to shoot a smut film, only to then fight for their lives when their elderly hosts, Pearl (also played by Goth under prosthetics) and Howard (Stephen Ure), turn murderous. Maxine is now at the top of her game in the adult film industry, but she lands her big break with a lead role in The Puritan II, the Hollywood studio-backed sequel to a hit indie horror movie from director Elizabeth Bender (Elizabeth Debicki).

She just has to make sure her past stays dead. Someone very powerful hired private investigator John Labat (Kevin Bacon) to track down Maxine, whose real name is Maxine Miller. He puts her just-blossoming movie career in jeopardy by threatening to expose what happened on that farmhouse. Meanwhile, her friends in the porn industry, as well as her costar on The Puritan II, Molly Bennett (Lily Collins), all become victims of the Night Stalker, a serial killer plaguing California. Detectives Williams (Michelle Monaghan) and Torres (Bobby Cannavale) quickly hone in on Maxine. They are unclear about her connection to the murders or if she could be the next victim.

<p>Justin Lubin</p> Kevin Bacon as John Labat in 'MaXXXine'

Justin Lubin

Kevin Bacon as John Labat in 'MaXXXine'

Related: MaXXXine caps horror trilogy with 'big, sprawling Los Angeles ensemble movie'

Both the Night Stalker and Labat's client turn out to be Ernest Miller (Simon Prast), Maxine's father, who's a fanatical televangelist preacher. Audiences first heard of him in the final moments of X when Maxine is listening to the radio as she drives away from the farm. Ernest is also responsible for all the religious zealots protesting production of The Puritan II outside the studio.

"I was trying to set a movie in 1985, which was a very censorship-laden [time], particularly with music and things like that," West explained. "To have a cultural, moral outcry felt aligned with the themes of the trilogy."

Maxine heads to an address — a remote estate in the Hollywood Hills — given to her by Labat, only to become the star of what he hopes will be his propaganda film for the church to show how he saved his wayward daughter from sin. When Williams and Torres arrive, it turns into a bloodbath. Maxine tracks Ernest up to L.A.'s famous Hollywood sign, where she experiences a dreamlike sequence of becoming an overnight mega-movie star after helping to stop the Night Stalker killer. She envisions herself on the red carpet for The Puritan II premiere, where there's talk among the press of Bender directing The Maxine Minx Saga as a biopic of the actor's life.

<p>Courtesy of A24</p> Mia Goth and Elizabeth Debicki in 'MaXXXine'

Courtesy of A24

Mia Goth and Elizabeth Debicki in 'MaXXXine'

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Maxine snaps back to reality and blows her father's brains out as an LAPD chopper circles over, flashing a literal spotlight down on her. But it seems the life Maxine always dreamed about comes true. A flash-forward takes audiences to a month later, where she's is in her dressing room on the set of The Puritan II, now back in production after Molly's death. Maxine has become, as she tells herself in the mirror, "a f---ing movie star." Later, as she speaks with Bender, she says aloud, "I never want it to end."

As anyone familiar with Hollywood knows, everything comes to an end, especially in an industry that historically values youth and beauty. In some ways, it's what Pearl, who had similar dreams of stardom in her youth (as was explored in the prequel), faced in X. Maxine, who looked eerily identical to her younger self, became the younger, more successful version of Pearl, which contributed to the elderly woman's murderous turn.

In that first movie, Pearl ominously intones that Maxine will grow up to be just like her. By the end of MaXXXine, our newbie star finally achieves everything she fought and killed for: the spotlight. What would happen if now a younger star came on the scene to threaten Maxine's pedestal? What if that same actress were to land the role of Maxine Minx in the Maxine Minx Saga biopic mentioned in the ending? What would Maxine do to make sure she stays relevant?

<p>A24</p> Mia Goth and director Ti West on the set of 'MaXXXine'


Mia Goth and director Ti West on the set of 'MaXXXine'

Related: A Guide to X, Pearl, and MaXXXine: All about the X trilogy universe

In the event West's possible next film wouldn't be a Maxine Minx-specific story, Collins expressed interest in returning for another X movie during an interview with Collider. Logistically, it would have to be some kind of prequel, perhaps about the making of the first Puritan movie. Meanwhile, West separately told Yahoo, "I love Lily, so I'd be happy to make it."

There's a lot of potential left by this particular MaXXXine ending, but time — and the box office — will tell if more films are in the cards. X became a surprise hit, which then gave West ammunition to convince A24 to make the smaller film Pearl first before launching into the big, ensemble piece that is now MaXXXine.

"In many ways, it'll be nice to be done with this movie and maybe get to take a little bit of it in," West told EW of the reception to his trilogy. "A big part of this movie is to really, hopefully, stick the landing of this trilogy, to go out with a bang and have people be like, 'This is why you go to the movies.' This is not Part 3 of me trying to tell some very idiosyncratic character beat moment. For the trilogy about filmmaking and about cinema, I'm trying to close it out in a big movie theater experience."

Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.