TI West is on a mission. Where some directors devote years to the development of ideas into successful features, West managed to deliver both the first and second films in his burgeoning “X” franchise just six months apart. Both cracked the $10m mark at the box office.

By that standard, the almost two year delay of part three feels like an age.

The film is called MaXXXine, three X’s signifying three films in a creative alternative to the simple slapping of the number 3 onto the end of the first. It’s another slash-friendly, exploitation horror to avoid watching with mum and dad.

Strictly speaking, MaXXXine is only the first sequel to 2022’s X, Pearl having been a prequel made on the quick when West quickly guessed he had a hit on his hands. As such, it follows the next steps of Mia Goth’s Maxine Minx, erstwhile adult film lead and now wannabe movie star. X was set in the seventies, MaXXXine is all about the eighties. Anything is possible.

Having survived Pearl’s bloody machinations back in 1979, Maxine’s ascent ought to prove smooth sailing, not least when she auditions for a string of all too similar horror films. Only, danger lurks. The bright lights of Hollywood cast dark shadows and a serial killer is on the loose: the Night Stalker (the real-life murderer Richard Ramirez).

As the bodies pile, fear builds but all is not as it seems. While Michelle Monaghan’s LAPD cop, Detective Williams, doubts that the murders are entirely of the same hands, we might wonder why so many around Maxine herself are falling victim. It’s a cut throat business is show.

Maxine can, at least, rely on a tight knit of friends. Giancarlo Esposito is Teddy, her paternalistic agent, while Moses Sumney and singer-songwriter Halsey play best friends Leon and Tabby. In LA, Maxine gains a new mentor too, in the form of imperious British director Elizabeth Bender, who is played by a scene-stealing Elizabeth Debicki.

West’s developing penchant for grounding the aesthetic of each film in the franchise in the vogue of the era continues here. Where X went for grain and gritty, Pearl had a ball with vibrant Technicolor. MaXXXine is eighties through and through. The result is great fun, a little flippant and a little less than the sum of its lopped off parts.