Lately anthology movies have become a norm in the landscape in the horror genre, after all the market goes in cycles, and with creations such as Southbound, Tales of Halloween and the themed Holidays, made way for XX. Initially when fans heard about the project it dated back over 4-years and many of the people involved in it, weren’t there for the final product, for numerous reasons, and typically happens on any announced project. The only ones originally approached and made to the finished film, Karyn Kusama and Jovanka Vuckovic, but this film delivers on many other levels, and contains a uniqueness about itself. All of the stories directed by women, and while some fans, perhaps narrow-mindedly resisting the fact of their talents do match and in many cases surpass their male counterparts, the work needs a welcoming invite by the fans. If one looks at movies in generally, they might see a comedic actor Robin Williams, who transformed his career later with such dramas as Insomnia and One Hour Photo, or Robert Wise, who directed West Side Story, a musical but created powerful The Haunting (1963). In fact, most recently, Jordan Peele, a comedic powerhouse, directed his first horror film Get Out, and many fans dismissed before the release because of comedic individual making a serious horror movie, no way they thought, but reality proves them all wrong, it is a great film. These directors and writers deliver seriously wonderful tales of horror, from Jovanka Vuckovic (The Box); Roxanne Benjamin (Don’t Fall); St. Vincent (The Birthday Party); and Karyn Kusama (Her Only Living Son); give the notice to all in horror a wake-up call. XX earned distribution through Magnet Releasing in a limited theater run and then Magnolia Pictures with VOD, DVD and Blu-ray release.
As with all anthologies the basic rule still holds a wraparound story, this time a stop-motion animated production, which reminds one of (Aurelio) Voltaire’s X-Mess Detritus (2008) clever enough, but still leaves one intrigued to see more.
The first story called “The Box” directed and written by Jovanka Vuckovic though the story based from Jack Ketchum, involving a creepy tale of a mother Susan Jacobs (Natalie Brown) and father puzzled by why their son stopped eating. Soon the condition spreads to their daughter and then the father, Susan does learn what her family does want as their favorite meal. , as we open with, tells the story of a mother who is forced to slowly watch her family starve. Next on the agenda a very peculiar black comedy called The Birthday Party, which hints in similar terrorist to Alfred Htchcock’s The Trouble with Harry (1955), as like that movie, one has difficult moving about a body, however director St. Vincent does a phenoman job with this short. The tension-filled ride works wonders, with the aerobatic assault to keep it all under control at children’s birthday party. A mother and wife Melanie Lynskey, whose marriage is definitely on a downward slope, but needs a few hours of control and panda bear costume to smooth over all her problems. Roxanne Benjamin delivers a fun standard horror trip, with the warning of Don’t Fall, as it’s a short and not wanting to give away any spoilers, let one know all the elements from cast to the tension hit their marks. After all Roxanne knows her way around and through the horror genre, a producers of all the V/H/S movies to date as well as Southbound (2015) where is wrote, directed, starred for the segment called Siren. Look for Gretchen (Breeda Wool) to tear up the role of hers in Don’t Fall you’ll sink your teeth in on the horrors. Lastly, the story of “Her Only Living Son” from Jennifer’s Body (2009) director Karyn Kusam, with young teen learning his fate and about himself coming of age theme, i.e. Devil’s spawn and a mother fearful of the truths. Where principals and teachers alike come to honor him, condemn others for their so-call disrespect to him. One will need to see who wins the latest battle of good versus evil.
Most of the stories hit their marks appropriately, and telling of shorts always a difficult maneuver for any filmmaker, cramming it altogether, and making the impact for horror audiences a change that these filmmakers succeed. Yes, some flaws exists, harsh jump cuts into a void of darkness and pops in the audio track, among other technical issues but not enough to dismay the average viewer.
As for another dose of entertainment from anthologies an a quality piece, with stories each taking a different path, often one gets a few shorts traveling down the same path, not here, most fans will have something to gnaw on for their time.