XX is a new horror anthology with a gender twist - all segments will be helmed by female directors and will star female leads. The directors have been given free creative rein within budget and time constraints, but all of the segments themselves will involve the horror genre.
Natalie Brown : Susan ("The Box")
Breeda Wool : Gretchen ("Don't fall")
Melanie Lynskey : Mary ("The Birthday party")
Christina Kirk : Cora ("Her only living Son")
Jovanka Vuckovic, Annie Clark, Roxanne Benjamin, Karyn Kusama
Are you taking any of this seriously?
Of course I am. I’m their mother.
“XX” is an anthology labeled as horror, but it isn’t really terrifying. There is no real connection between the four stories. At first, I thought it was always about a mother figure with the day-to-day problems and family situations. But the third story came with a very different theme. After that I assumed it was perhaps because a female character played the main role in every story. But afterward, the short content on IMDb made it clear that it was about four short stories written and directed by women. Well, I wasn’t too far off.
The most fascinating and in a way terrifying story, wasn’t saved as an apotheosis this time. The first story “The Box” is really the most creepy story and the only one with a fairly gore scene in it. A shocking story with the refusal to use necessary meals as the central topic. And no, it wasn’t the cannibalistic feast that confused a bit. Or that distressing feeling that creeps over you when you think that your own children could be in a similar situation. For me, the final images of emaciated bodies touched me. I was just wondering how they could have accomplished this technically. And of course, there’s the ultimate question: what the hell was in that box?
“The Birthday Party” resembled more a slapstick. Gradually I got this feeling that I was watching a movie from the old days. A kind of “Where-can-I-hide-the-body” game. It made me laugh instead of making me scared. A Hitchcockian story that featured itself as a stage-play. Actually, this is the only story that’s not really classifiable as horror. It rather shows how an individual experiences an embarrassing situation. “Do not fall” falls within the category “Familiar horror subject”, where a collection of petroglyphs are the cause that a number of youngsters end up in a staggering nightmare. Their camping trip somewhere in a desert doesn’t evolve like they expected. The final story “Her only living son” is the most diabolical story. It’s more like a “Rosemary’s Baby” story, but this time the mother flees with her son and tries to influence his destiny. A growing motherly instinct just to protect her only son from ultimate evil.
Perhaps the fact that these four short stories are produced by women, makes that they aren’t very creepy. They are more of a demonstration of maternal fear when it comes to their growing kids. Isn’t it so that every mother wants their loving daughter to have a magnificent birthday party? And that at all costs. And are there mothers who don’t have nightmares about their children becoming anorexic or their sons turning their backs on them because of a harmful influence? This has been incorporated in these short stories (besides “Don’t fall“). The biggest frustration in each of the four stories is the lack of explanation. At the end of each story, one stays with some pertinent questions. Indeed, what was in that box? Did David commit suicide in “The Birthday Party“? Who drew those petroglyphs and what was the meaning? Even the stop-motion film in between the short stories, was quite confusing.
It wasn’t highly original. It was very interesting though. Technically it looked really superb sometimes. The still-life pictures of cooked meals in “The box“. The successful transformation in “Don’t fall” given the limited budget. The gloomy and melancholic mood in “The Birtday Party” and the cruelty in “Her only living son“. I only had this feeling that the stories contained much more content than they could show in such a short film. In short, the time span confined the brilliancy of these movies in a way.