XX (2017) Review

xx

XX is a horror anthology film featuring four stories written and directed by four different women. In the first story “The Box” it tells the story of a young boy who meets an elderly man on a train with a box, the old man shows the boy what’s inside and afterwards the boy begins to starve himself, leaving his parents worried about what happened that day. “The Birthday Party” is about a mother who is trying to throw her daughter the best costume birthday party ever, however she finds her husband dead and now has to try dispose of the body before the guests arrive. “Don’t Fall” follows four friends who go camping in the desert, but after coming across weird rock paintings the friends find themselves dealing with demonic forces. “Her Only Living Son” involves a woman who discovers her son is developing odd and disturbing behavior as he’s about to turn eighteen.

The latest anthology horror film is particularly special because it proves that women are just as capable of directing horror films as men are. The talented women at hand do just that. Each story is really well-directed, even if some of the stories aren’t exactly the best written, but they do an excellent job of bringing their vision of the story to life and how it’s presented. Like most anthology horror films, this one is a mixed bag. “The Box” (written and directed by Jovanka Vuckovic) has an extremely interesting premise and I was invested the whole time, sadly it ends with a pretty unsatisfying ending where nothing is really revealed. “The Birthday Party” (written and directed by Annie Clark)  was hands-down my favorite entry. This one is definitely the least horror-filled and is instead more of a creepy black comedy. Melanie Lynskey plays the lead and she’s no stranger to playing odd characters, but Lynksey is excellent here and provides very great comedic moments with pretty minimal dialogue. The story in general is one of the better dark humor stories I’ve seen and it made me almost want to rewind this segment and watch it again. “Don’t Fall”  (written and directed by Roxanne Benjamin) was the strongest of the stories in terms of being an actual horror film and really made wish it was a little longer. It offers a very creepy setting in the nighttime desert setting, and the imagery of the demon released is super well-done and creepy. The friends are pretty likable and come off as realistic in how they joke around with each other and the overall interactions. So you do care for them. Angela Trimbur proves in this segment that she is totally capable of being the main girl as opposed to always playing the slutty party animal best friend, so here’s to hoping other horror directors see what she’s capable of doing. Sadly the weakest story was Karyn Kusama’s “Her Only Living Son”. I was really looking forward to Kusama’s because I absolutely loved her previous horror films Jennifer’s Body and The Invitation. But this one just came off a very basic, predictable, and pretty boring. You can see where Kusama’s vision is at, but it just needed a stronger script, and truthfully the acting wasn’t that great. Between each story are weird stop-motion-animated segments. In general they’re really well-done and set the odd and weird mood for the film, but in all honesty, they weren’t particularly necessary other than to be fillers to extend the runtime.

XX doesn’t follow full-on horror anthology tropes, but it does a fine job of mixing it up with weird, creepy, and humorous ones. Some are better than others or end up being missed opportunities, but they’re all wonderfully directed and fit well together. Not only does it show the abilities of its female directors, but it shows the potential of under-looked actresses like Melanie Lynskey and Angela Trimbur and what they can bring to the table.

3.5/5

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