Director: Jovanka Vuckovic, Annie Clark, Roxanne Benjamin, Karyn Kusama
Starring: A bunch of people.. Canada/USA. 1h 20m
Horror anthologies can be a lot of fun, what could be wrong with a collection of thrilling stories that aim to excite, shock and thrill? Usually there is little to connect the stories apart from a wrap around. But the delight in XX is that it’s a female themed horror anthology, made by women possibly for women..it’s aim is to show that girls can make horror that is just as good if not better than the boys, but instead we have a few short films which seem to revolve around some incredibly boring women and inconsistently moan about motherhood.
Horror is generally seen as a male orientated genre and this hit back was disappointedly weak. Each segment has its moments and there’s absolutely no problem with the direction and production, but if XX is trying to make some kind of statement then it failed to make it clear.
Beginning with some artistic flare from the work of Mexican stop-motion animation artist Sofia Carrillo, who makes the wrap around that consists of a small critter that travels around a run down house slowly putting pieces together to make a child, tits just another peg in the films woman role board, all the characters are mother, caretakers etc.
The first segment was probably the most painful, The Box based on a story by Jack Ketchum. A mother takes her children into the city for some fun just before Christmas, on the train ride home her son looks into a big shiny box belonging to a strange passenger, he’s silently disturbed by the contense and refuses to eat afterwards, slowly he discloses the secret of the box to his father and sister and they also refuse food, while her family start to waste away before her eyes the mother is slow to react and continues to cook for them as normal there is a gory dream sequence where she imagines herself laying on the dinner table and her family slowly carving her up and eating her. The Box ultimately leaves you hanging with no closure and with no energy to even bother to make up your own ideas of the box’s contents, sadly there is no answer in the original story either.
Another installment of “horror” is the The Birthday Party, a fairly well off woman has arranged a birthday party for her (adopted) daughter but wakes up she finds that he husband is dead instead of handling it like woman, she spends the day transporting and hiding the corpse from her nanny and daughter, eventually he finds a comical costume for him and the segment ends with a wtf comedy shock moment, while it felt like a total waste of time it’s at least a bit of a giggle but I failed to see a hint of a scare.
I’m not going to go through all the stories but one stand out piece is the final piece called Her Only Living Son by the most established director Karyn Kusama, a single mother raises her teenage son living in a modest house on the outskirts of town, they keep to themselves, she works as a waitress and there only contact with the world is work and school, she routinely rejects offers from the local mail man and it’s clear that this woman lives for her son, but as he nears his 18th birthday his true nature starts to reveal itself in dark violent and chilling ways. But still his mother loves and protects him.
A haunting story that has a brilliant darkness about it which un nerves and if it was made into something on its own then I feel it would really pack a punch.
Overall it’s watchable but I certainly wouldn’t really have put this forwards as a contendable horror with a beautiful array of amazing modern horror anthologies that are available and I find it weak compared to some of the more brilliant older films.
It could have been a real breakthrough a game changer in the world of horror, to show that women can make credible horror movies but instead it seems that the project was more about women making a few unnerving stories about plights of being a woman, but as each story and the wrap around mostly revolve around being a mom it just gets incredibly boring.
R: Creepshow (1982), The House that Dripped Blood (1971) VHS (2012), A B C’s of Death 2 (2014)
L – Horror Anthologies