This horror anthology contains four short films by female directors Karyn Kusama, Annie Clark (aka the musician St. Vincent), Roxanne Benjamin, and Jovanka Vuckovic. The stories include: “The Birthday Party,” about a harried mom (Melanie Lynskey) who has to keep the fun going at her son’s birthday, even after she finds her husband dead; “Her Only Living Son,” about a mother (Christina Kirk) whose suspicions about her teenage son (Kyle Allen) prove terrifyingly correct; “The Box,” an adaptation of a story by Jack Ketchum about a young boy’s self-starvation after a chance encounter on the subway; and “The Fall,” about college stoners who must survive a wilderness adventure. Stop-motion animations by Sofía Carrillo provide interstitials between the chapters.
What We Thought:
Like all anthology films, XX has some good and some not so good stories. I think my biggest issue with it is that not one of the four shorts seems to have a proper ending.
The first short is The Box. This uses the classic MacGuffin plot device. A mother is on a train with her son and daughter and the son asks a man on the train what’s in the box he’s carrying. The boy looks in and we are never told what was in it. The boy stops eating followed by the sister and then the father. The ending gives away nothing to explain what happened to them. I have no idea why they stop eating, they just do. It didn’t do much for me.
Melanie Lynskey stars in the second short, The Birthday Party. I didn’t quite get this one. She plays a mom throwing a birthday party for her daughter and her husband dies. Instead of calling the cops, she tries to hide the fact that he died. There’s no reason you don’t call 911 at that point. It ends with no telling of what happens after he’s discovered to be dead. The words afterwards were pretty funny because it seemed to be based on a true story.
The third short is Don’t Fall. It’s your standard people go to desert/woods type story. Four friends go camping and discover some pictures on rock formations. A creature shows up and bad things happen. I don’t think I recognized anyone in it and it’s the worst of the shorts.
Fourth is Her Only Living Son. I’m thinking this was about aliens or some monster. I recognized the son from a film called 1 Night which I saw recently. He’s having issues at school and people keep talking to the mother about him being special. I didn’t quite get it and I certainly didn’t understand the ending either.
XX is supposed to showcase female directors, but the fact that none of them really have an ending doesn’t showcase anyone. If you like anthology films like V/H/S or ABCs of Death I guess it’s worth seeing. I’m not a huge fan of anthology films so this was just ok to me. I also didn’t get the point of the stop-motion sequences in between stories.