I wanted to get at least one more review in this month to take my post count up to a whopping five. At least I've been in a somewhat mood to do reviews of late. I did manage to get one review in at my other blog. If you would like to read my thoughts on Annabelle: Creation, then just click the link. I was happy to get a review over there at last. Hopefully, my review woes will turn around next month. For today, I decided to watch the film XX (2017). It is a film I have wanted to catch up with, so I decided today would be the day at last. I heard a lot about this film before its release but didn't hear all that much about it after it was released.
XX is an anthology film with five short stories to be found. Since there are only five, I thought I would go over each one instead of highlighting those I liked most or didn't like. XX starts with a stop-motion animation sequence by Sofia Carillo that serves as the connecting story. It doesn't really connect the stories together at all, but it was a cool way to jump from story to story for the other shorts. The animation had to do with toys coming to life, at least I assumed they were toys anyway.
The first short that we get to dive into was called The Box. This was a story based on a story by Jack Ketchum. The Box was written and directed by Jovanka Vuckovic. This story had to do with Susan (Natalie Brown) taking her two kids home after a day out having fun together. It is getting close to Christmas and Danny (Peter DaCunha) sees a man with a present. Danny asks the man what is in it, much to the disapproval of Susan, but the man is nice enough to show Danny what is in the box. After looking, Danny decides that he is no longer hungry. As the days pass, Danny refuses to eat anything which causes a fight to break out between Susan, who doesn't act all that concerned, and Robert (Jonathan Watton). Danny eventually tells his sister (Peyton Kennedy) what is in the box and then she decides to stop eating.
The Box started out kind of interesting. We never get to see whatever it was that is in the box, but we do see Danny's expression change. Whatever it is, Danny goes from being happy and curious to sad and maybe even afraid some. When asked about what was in the box, Danny simply says "nothing". As the story goes on though, I guess I felt there wasn't much happening in order to keep my interest. I did feel bad for the family as they stopped eating. It was kind of interesting that whoever Danny told about the box, they would stop eating as well. I just ended up finding the overall story a bit of the boring side. On the plus side though, The Box did feature some nice makeup and effects as each person wasted away. The acting was pretty good as well, with Peter DaCunha becoming my favorite of the bunch.
The next story was called The Birthday Party. This one was co-written by Roxanne Benjamin and Annie Clark, perhaps better known as St. Vincent, who also directed. This was a story about Mary (Melanie Lynskey), a mother trying hard to get ready for her daughter's big birthday party. Mary is already stressing over it when she finds her husband dead in his den. Not wanting to spoil her daughter's birthday, Mary tries to figure out what to do.
While all the other stories in XX were serious in nature, The Birthday Party takes on more of the comedy side. I wouldn't call it a laugh out loud style comedy though, but more a dark comedy. While not a very deep story, it wasn't bad at all. It has a steady pace to it and it was fun to see the lengths Mary goes to in order to hide her husband's death. Nothing in the short really made me laugh, except for the title sequence at the end, but it did manage to make me grin more than a few times. Nothing as far as effects go and Melanie Lynskey did a wonderful job in the lead role.
Don't Fall was the next story in line. This one was written and directed by Roxanne Benjamin. This was the shortest of the four main stories and had the simplest story out of them as well. Four friends are out hiking, exploring around the Grand Canyon, I think, and find some drawings on one of the large rocks they are climbing on. One of the friends, Gretchen (Breeda Wool) begins to change later that night, which isn't good new for her friends.
As I said, Don't Fall doesn't have much of a story to it. The friends having a fun time while exploring that turns into a blood bath that night. It is also the only story that doesn't seem to follow a theme that the others set, having something to do with a mother. Maybe Gretchen is a mother, although I don't recall this being mentioned at all. The other stories, even the animation possibly, have to do with the mother and their family to some extent as well, but Don't Fall seems to leave that behind. While not much of a story, it is the goriest short by far and was fun because of that. The effects are well done and fairly bloody. The acting was pretty good as well with Casey Adams, Angela Trimbur, and Morgan Krantz rounding out the cast as the other friends.
The last short was called Her Only Living Son by writer/director Karyn Kusama. Cora (Christina Kirk) is a single mother who is trying to raise her son Andy (Kyle Allen). His 18th birthday is coming up soon and Cora is worried about Andy. He isn't acting the way a normal boy would act. He nails a squirrel to a tree and pulls out the fingers of a girl in his class. Some of those around Andy, like his high school principal, sees Andy as special and refuses to punish Andy for any of his wrong doings. Cora is trying to keep Andy's father out of the picture since he has never actually been there for Andy, but his father isn't who Cora thinks it is either.
For me, Her Only Living Son was the best short of the bunch. It just had the best story, even if it was a bit easy to see where it was going with Andy's father and what was going on with Andy as well. I think what made the story for me was the acting by the two leads. The interaction between the two, especially right towards the end of the story, really managed to pull me in. There wasn't a lot of effects to be found here, but the story more than made up for that.
One minor thing that I didn't like about XX, in general, was that the title of each short appeared before the short started. I assumed this was done to give a little separation between the animation short and the other shorts. The problem I had was that each short also gave the title after a couple of minutes into them. I really didn't see the point of giving the title twice. I may not have liked every short that was in XX, but I felt the ones I didn't like were balanced out by the ones I did like. XX wasn't as good as I was hoping it would be, but it isn't a bad film either. As I write this, XX can currently be found on Netflix and can be watched with their instant watch selection. If you haven't given it a shot yet, perhaps you should do so. It is worth a watch.
3 out of 5 I hope to see more women directors in horror