This horror anthology tasks four female directors to create a short horror film in order to give a unique perspective.
I will start this review off simply by stating the obvious. XX is an anthology horror film. You have to know that ahead of time. There are many people who do not get into those, and most of the time it’s for very valid reasons.
When you have four different directors, each creating their own film and most often not communicating with each other, those four films are not going to work cohesively with each other. They’re going to have different themes. Different styles. At the end of each film, there’s an abrupt end where you have to gather yourself, wipe the slate clean, and prepare for the next one.
It’s kind of like being at a film festival! Except, in the case of anthology films, they’re still all together.
One thing that I did find interesting in XX is that, despite being made by four female directors who all made a different film without communicating with each other, 3 out of the 4 films had a common theme. 75% of these horror films were set in a domestic situation and had something to do with motherhood.
What does that say?
As with all anthology films, some of the shorts are good, and some of the shorts are bad. I know I only really liked two of them. I could probably rank them all, but that would just be my personal ranking.
The first film in the anthology is called The Box. This one was my favorite. It absolutely has a whole lot of that “What’s in the box??” feeling to it. After a strange man on the train shows her son the contents of a box he’s carrying, he refuses to eat, and the family begins to fall apart. I really liked the pacing and tension in this one. It just really struck me.
This first film is followed up by The Birthday Party. This was my least favorite film of the bunch. I know my assessment is kind of harsh, but I didn’t think it really supplied anything. A stressed mother discovers that her husband is dead on the morning of her daughter’s birthday party, and she must do whatever it takes to make sure the party goes on. The edits for this one were much more disjointed. It felt like it was supposed to be comedic, but I just found myself bored.
The third film is called Don’t Fall. This one is a bit of an odd ball when compared to the others because it doesn’t have any trace of motherhood or domestic life in it. In this film, a group of friends are camping and discover ancient writings on cave walls. One of the members of the group ends up being taken over by a monster, and the trip becomes a blood bath. I wasn’t a huge fan of this one, but it’s fun. I thought the effects were pretty good.
The final film is called Her Only Living Son, and it takes us back to motherhood. A single mother struggles to handle her son’s violent outbursts as his 18th birthday approaches and his father’s negative influence grows stronger. This one is probably my second favorite. It’s directed by Karyn Kusama, whom I do like. It has her characteristic tension building and a pretty good cinematic style.
While there are some standout moments through this anthology, XX is very bland overall. It is unfortunate because I really wanted to like this, like I wanted to love it. As a woman in horror I wanted to love this horror anthology created by women. It just felt lackluster though.
Maybe it was the directors who were chosen. The film was advertised as being made by “terrific female directors,” but for the director of The Birthday Party, this was her directorial debut. It didn’t feel to me that she was a “terrific female director” yet. It’s hard to say.
Overall, I’d probably recommend just skipping this one, especially if you already don’t like anthology horror films. There isn’t too much in this one to warrant a watch. I did really like The Box, directed by Jovanka Vuckovic, though. That I would recommend.