Original Title: XX
Country: Canada, United States
Director: Jovanka Vuckovic, Annie Clark, Roxanne Benjamin and Karyn Kusama
09.03.2020: This review was first published on 16.07.2018 and is being updated for a more complete review, together with the publishing of the YouTube Version.
Hello There! Welcome to Ulven Reviews!
XX is an anthology movie consisting of four little horror stories, every single one of them written, directed and led by women.
Not The Pop Band
The first story, directed by Jovanka Vuckovic, is called The Box. It tells the story of Susan (played by Natalie Brown) and her children, Danny (played by Peter DaCunha) and Jenny (played by Peyton Kennedy).
While on the subway, the family sits next to a man carrying a red box. Danny asks to see what’s in the box, and after seeing it, he completely stops eating. The mother takes him to doctors, that can’t solve the issue, that goes on for months.
The second story, directed by Annie Clark A.K.A. St. Vincent, is called The Birthday Party. Mary (played by Melanie Lynskey), who finds the husband (played by Seth Duhame) dead, in the morning of her daughter’s birthday. She decides to hide the body and keep the party as if nothing happened.
The third short film, directed by Roxanne Benjamin, is called Don’t Fall. In it, a group of friends exploring caves in the desert, see ancient paintings, depicting a demon, on a wall. After dawn, the group goes camping, and things got out of control.
The fourth story, directed by Karyn Kusama, is called Her Only Living Son. The story of Cora (played by Christina Kirk), a single mother, raising her very peculiar and apparently evil teenage son, Andy (played by Kyle Allen).
My favorite, by far, is The Box. It was a very intriguing story that kept me interested until the end. It was also the best visually, with some disturbing, graphic scenes.
The Box is followed by the two I like the least, The Birthday Party and Don’t Fall. Very different from one another, but yet, none of the stories captivate me.
The Birthday Party is the lightest and the only one with a comedic vein, but I didn’t find it funny. Don’t Fall is very generic, it’s the typical story of teenagers being slaughtered in a distant location.
The last one is better, but my high expectations affected the experience. Karyn Kusama is experienced and well-known, I really enjoyed her 2015 movie The Invitation, but I wasn’t really impressed with Her Only Living Son.
The story is a little basic, the idea resembles the ’76 horror classic The Omen, with the evil boy growing up to become the antichrist. The main difference is that in Her Only Living Son, the boy is nearly eighteen, in the final phase of becoming the antichrist, while The Omen is about his early life.
I saw more parallels with The Omen, but on IMDb and Wikipedia is said that the idea of Her Only Living Son is a continuation of Rosemary’s Baby. Andy stands for Adrian in this case.
Between each of the short films, there’s a visually disturbing stop motion animation directed by Sofìa Carrillo. I don’t know why she is not listed in the credits on IMDb.
This movie was about joining some female talent in the direction of horror movies. The cinema industry as a whole doesn’t have many women, in the horror genre it might be even worse, and XX was a way to highlight these filmmakers.
Not only the direction, and writing but also every leading role is female. I can’t say I knew most of the actors when I first watched it, but the acting is solid throughout, regardless. Melanie Lynskey is the most well-known name, I love her and can’t wait to talk about another film she’s in, but XX is not among her best works, but that’s more due to the story than the quality of her work.
There’s not much in common with each segment except the genre. Each one has its style of direction, with the positive and negative points. The stories I liked the least had other elements I enjoyed, like the location and camera work of Don’t Fall and the use of music and slow-motion of The Birthday Party.
Another thing I enjoyed was the special effects, particularly in The Box and Don’t Fall. Probably uncomplicated and cheap techniques, considering the low-budget the movie had, yet it accomplished to be convincing.
The most compelling thing about the movie is its premise of joining female directors to make cheap, straightforward horror movies. Every segment has its ups and downs, but in general, the stories were too much of a disappointment, so XX it’s 5 Moons to me.
That’s it for now. Happy International Women’s Day, and stay tuned for more videos dedicated to women directors.