In this section of our Colossus Movie Guide for X, we will explain the film’s ending.
- Mia Goth – Maxine “Max” Minx / Pearl
- Jenna Ortega – Lorraine “Raine” Day
- Brittany Snow – Bobby-Lynne Parker
- Scott Mescudi – Jackson Hole
- Martin Henderson – Wayne Gilroy
- Owen Campbell – R.J. Nichols
- Stephen Ure – Howard
- Ti West – Director and writer
The end of X explained
A series of events at the end of X are all crucial to understanding the intent of the film. While Howard has heart attack and Maxine battles with Pearl, a preacher appears on the television screen and gives a speech:
Here we all are together. We’ve reached a crossroads of salvation or damnation. The time is now. For if we do not take control of our fate, the Lord shall do it for us. It’s time to turn our backs on sin and make the commitment once and for all. I will not accept a life I do not deserve.
While the preacher talks, Maxine and Pearl have a conversation. Pearl shames Maxine for having sex in the barn and says, “You’ll end up just like me.” To which Maxine responds, “I’m nothing like you. You’re a kidnapping, murdering sex fiend. I’m a fucking star! The whole world is gonna know my name!” Then Maxine says in unison with the preacher on TV, “I will not accept a life I do not deserve!”
After Maxine’s gun fails to fire, Pearl picks up her shotgun and shoots. But she misses, and the force of the shotgun sends her flying backwards. That’s when the preacher exclaims, “Now that’s what I call divine intervention! The Lord smiles on those who accept him! Praise his name! Glory be to Jesus! Praise the Lord!”
As Maxine walks to the truck to drive away, an injured Pearl yells, “You’re not innocent! You’re not special! It’ll all be taken from you! Just like it was taken from me! I’ll tell everyone who you are!” Maxine then backs up and squashes Pearl’s head and says, “It’ll be our secret.”
As Maxine drives away, a Jesus figurine hangs in the truck’s rearview mirror. She says to herself, “Divine intervention.” She then snorts a line of coke and says, “Praise the fuckin’ Lord,” before driving off into the sunrise.
We then cut to a succeeding morning as the police investigates the murders that took place on the farm. The preacher, who is now revealed to be Maxine’s father, speaks on the television once again. This time he says:
“I hope that through my own admission others may find the light. I want to show y’all something. Get a shot of this. (Shows picture of Maxine) There she is! My beautiful little daughter Maxine. Lured into a life of sin by the very deviants we warn of here on a daily basis. From our lovin’ home into the hands of devils. We pray, one day, she’ll find her way home to us.”
To end the movie, one of the cops brings out a camera that contains the adult film they were secretly shooting. And after asking the sheriff what he thinks is on the film, the sheriff (James Gaylyn) responds, “I’d say one goddamned fucked up horror picture.”
The ending of X speaks to two important aspects of the film: Maxine’s self-affirming victory as a character and director Ti West’s ode to the artistry of filmmaking.
Maxine’s victory at the end of X is representative of something much larger than herself. She is part of a larger theme focused on division in the United States. Back in the 1970s, adult films were rising in popularity, which led many to believe the country’s values were declining. The preacher speaks to this fear shared by much of America. It just so happens he’s speaking specifically about his own daughter, Maxine.
To broaden Maxine’s situation to the rest of America during that time, a whole generation of youngsters was being shamed for its progressive-minded values. Sexual liberty and a vitalized drug culture—both prominent components of Maxine’s life—were decried by people like Maxine’s father, Howard, and Pearl. That’s why we hear Pearl trying to shame Maxine for making the adult film on their farm.
But Maxine’s determination to remain true to herself and her calling represents her victory in the end. She repeats the words of her father at the end, referring to her own self-manifested accomplishments as “divine intervention.” She rejects Pearl as her inevitable future, choosing to design her own path in life and refusing to be held back by the conservative community.
This neatly folds into West’s admiration of film. As we discussed in the Key Shots section, X is very much a metafilm—meaning the movie is about the art of making movies. As we also discussed in the Title Explanation section, the movie itself gets its title from X-rated pornographic films. Altogether, West is making a statement about pornographic films’ ability to become “true art;” to exemplify positive, life-affirming values that can push society in a better direction.
So at the end when the sheriff refers to Maxine’s movies as “one goddamned fucked up horror picture,” he’s speaking to the ongoing tension that permeates the division in America to this very day. A whole portion of the United States views Maxine’s lifestyle—views progressivism in general—as a detriment to the country’s moral fortitude. But as a metaflim, the sheriff’s statement also becomes a commentary about the very movie we’re watching. It isn’t just that Maxine’s movie is a fucked up horror picture—this entire situation is the fucked up picture; this neverending struggle that plagues this country is the true horror movie.
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