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Film Review: XX (2017)

SYNOPSIS:

XX is a new horror anthology with a gender twist – all segments will be helmed by female directors and will star female leads. The directors have been given free creative rein within budget and time constraints, but all of the segments themselves will involve the horror genre.

REVIEW:

With more women establishing themselves in the roles of screenwriters and directors in the movie industry, we’ve got to see an influx of some new talent with fresh voices add their perspective to our beloved genre. A lot of what we’ve gotten has been pretty dang good, which is why it’s been such a fun time to be a horror fan. The anthology movie XX is gives us four short films written and directed by women.  Do we once again get some high quality fare, or did we finally get some duds?

The first story is an adaption of Jack Ketchum’s “The Box”. It’s about a young boy who asks to see what a stranger on a subway has in his gift box. After he’s shown, the child stops eating. Soon his sister and father follow suit after he tells them a secret. The boy’s mother is forced to watch as her entire family begins to starve themselves to death. The second film is the “Birthday Party” and it’s about a woman who’s trying to prepare for her daughter’s birthday party. A monkey wrench is thrown into her plans when she discovers that her husband died in the middle of the night. “Don’t Fall” is about a group of campers who discover a cave with some mysterious markings. Shortly afterwards, one of the campers undergoes a horrific transformation. “Her Only Living Son” follows a single-mother whose only son is turning 18. However, he’s been undergoing some rather frightening mental and physical changes that’s making him dangerous to everyone around him.

Like most anthology movies, some of the shorts are better than others. That’s not to say any of them were bad, in fact, they were all pretty good. Tight scripts and solid directing really produced a quality film, so even the weaker entries were still pretty well done. The actors in each segment gave wonderful performances as well.

The first story, “The Box”, is the real star of the show. With us never learning what was in the titular box, there’s an air of mystery that permeates throughout. It makes you wonder why seeing its contents made the young boy in the story stop eating, and why it affected other members in the family the same way when he shared what he saw. The fact that it has such a tragic influence on the fate of this family, you start to imagine what it could be. The unanswered questions it raises helps add to the creepiness of it all.

“The Birthday Party” was the more humorous of the entries as we watch a woman try to hide her husband’s accidental death to avoid ruining her daughter’s birthday.I think of all the segments, this one had a lot to say, particularly in how parents can inadvertently cause harm to their children when acting out of the best intentions. I also think it was making a statement how harmful trying to keep up appearances to fit into your social circle can be destructive. I think the fact there was more than one message it was trying to convey makes it one of the stronger entries, particularly since they were conveyed so well.

“The Fall” is a solid entry, but it seemed to have the least substance. As we watch one of the campers turn into a violent bloodthirsty monster, we do get some bloodshed. It had some decent tension and atmosphere, but there didn’t seem to be a whole lot to the story. Unless the

“Her Only Living Son” was effectively unsettling, yet of all the stories I found this one the most predictable. It’s not going to take you long to figure out who the kid’s real father is and how that explains his behavior, so the big reveal isn’t all that shocking. However, it’s still is a tense piece that is ultimately about a parent’s love for her child.

Despite my not finding the last two shorts as strong as the preceding stories, they didn’t detract too much from my enjoying the entire film. There’s some solid talent in front of and behind the camera on display. It’s definitely worth a look.

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