Before you read any further, let me assure you: this is NOT a review of a softcore porn. The XX title is not the rating of the film…it’s simply a denotation of the X-X chromosome set all of the directors share (for those of you who did not attend high school science, that means all the directors in this anthology are female).
The short films in this collection are not perfect, but they are very well made, and each showcases the budding talents of these four up-and-coming horror directors. I am definitely making a note to watch out for these ladies because I wager we will be hearing much more about them in the future.
If you are not familiar with XX, here is the synopsis courtesy of Magnet Releasing:
An all-female helmed horror anthology featuring four dark tales written and directed by fiercely talented women:
• Annie Clark rocks her directorial debut with THE BIRTHDAY PARTY
• Karyn Kusama (THE INVITATION, GIRLFIGHT) exorcises HER ONLY LIVING SON
• Roxanne Benjamin (SOUTHBOUND) screams DON’T FALL
• Jovanka Vuckovic (THE CAPTURED BIRD) dares to open THE BOX.
Award-winning animator Sofia Carrillo (LA CASA TRISTE) wraps together four suspenseful stories of terror featuring a cast including Natalie Brown, Melanie Lynskey, Breeda Wool and Christina Kirk.
I need to clarify something before I continue with the review. There is a single flaw keeping these shorts from perfection, and interestingly enough, it plagues all four of them: a lack of clear explanation. I will go into deeper detail below, but I needed to state this up front because I’m NOT trying to convince you to steer clear of this anthology. On the contrary, I am highly recommending it. The films within it are entertaining and fun, despite the missing resolution.
As mentioned, each film is shot very well and looks great onscreen. The camerawork is effective, and the sets and props are all top notch.
The acting is very good in all four shorts, although I only recognize a single face: Melanie Lynskey, who plays the mom in “The Birthday Party”. Fans of TWO AND A HALF MEN will remember Lynskey as Charlie’s stalker-neighbor, Rose. But despite a lack of other recognizable faces, each cast does a great job regardless.
The special effects are minimal but well done. “The Box” and “The Birthday Party” really didn’t have many to speak of, and “Her Only Living Son” has a few, and they look good. “Don’t Fall” has the most, and they are excellent.
**WARNING: The following section contains spoilers!!
As I said above, each short suffers from a lack of resolution or explanation. In “The Birthday Party,” this is very minor, as the only subject not explained is how the husband died (I THINK it is insinuated that he killed himself, but not sure why, and not sure why this didn’t upset the mom). “Her Only Living Son” is great, up to the end, and then we are left to wonder what happened; did they kill each other? I couldn’t tell. “Don’t Fall” leaves us asking, ‘What did the girl turn in to, and why? Just because she cut her finger?’
But the most agonizingly persistent questions linger with “The Box”. I LOVED this piece, right up to the final scenes…where we are given no resolution. WHAT WAS IN THE BOX? And why the cryptic statement at the end, “…and I’m so hungry”. The intention here might have been to create suspense, but it wound up annoying me instead.
Still, I cannot deny how enthralling these pieces are, and I suggest giving this anthology a look for sure. I truly hope to see more work from these directors soon, as I’m betting it will be big and bold, whatever they choose to do. XX is available now in a variety of formats.