Streaming Review of "XX" by Jason Minton
Available Now on Netflix
XX – 2017
Production by: Snowfort Pictures, Scythia Films, XYZ Films
Distribution by: Magnet Releasing
XX is a horror anthology of four films by four different directors. The most terrifying horror of all? Woman at the helm of horror movies is still marketed as a novelty act. All shorts have a “gender twist”. That twist being each segment is directed by a woman and starring women. “Four Deadly Tales by Four Killer Women.”
On a long subway ride home with his mom (Natalie Bown), young Danny (Michael Dyson) gets a little antsy and begins pestering the man beside him. Curiosity kills the cat and Danny takes a peek inside the box the man’s holding. Whatever is inside the box haunts Danny so much, it causes him to lose his appetite. Danny’s distress spreads throughout the family who all begin to waste away ala Stephen King’s Thinner.
The only segment not written by a woman, The Box is adapted from a Jack Ketchum short into film by its female director. I’m a Jack Ketchum fan and it’s nice to see one of his many short stories come to life on the big screen. The Box feels like a story from the Twilight Zone, fitting for a horror anthology. The unanswered question appropriately leaves the viewer wanting more from the story than is given. The mothers dream sequence is possibly my favorite part of the entire film. Unfortunately everything is portrayed in an unrealistic way, glossing over doctor’s orders and a families response to a sudden case of a bulimia outbreak. An opportunity hinted at but not fully explored of a mother’s desire to protect her children was really missed in this one. Directed by Jovanka Vuckovic
“The Birthday Party”
The story of what a mother will go through to make her child’s big day as special as it can be. Mary (Melanie Lynskey) intends to give her daughter Lucy (Sanai Victoria) a very special birthday. From the moment Mary wakes up, nothing goes right. Determined to keep the festivities going, Mary continually covers up the unfortunate happens as the day spirals into a morbid tale of the worst birthday ever.
A familiar tale of a day spiraling into disaster. The story of how far a mother will go is stunted like it’s on drugs. The films odd vibe never really sinks its teeth into Mary going all out to protect her daughter’s happiness. Instead, it hides her actions under a cloak of perfectionism which is far less intriguing. Another opportunity was missed to really spiral completely out of control into a ridiculously comedic happenstance but is still one of the best shorts in the series. Directed by St. Vincent
While on a trip in the desert, a group of friends find ancient petroglyphs in the isolated rocky hills. Not knowing what the rock drawings warn of, the group continues on to their own peril. Attacked in the middle of the night, the group goes on the run trying to survive the night.
The only basic horror story in the series, it’s also the only real action you’ll see in the film. For a story like this you really need more than twenty minutes or at least more dialogue to get viewers invested in the characters before they’re put in mortal peril. A few bad effects and this short falls a little short on time to explain all that is going on. Directed by Roxanne Benjamin
“Her Only Living Son”
Mother Cora (Christina Kirk) grows increasingly worried about her teenage son’s strange behavior. Violent outbursts and a blatant disregard for his mother seems more than the typical teenage condition. Things aren’t getting better as his eighteenth birthday approaches. No one but his victims seems to share his mother’s concern over her son’s increasingly scary demeanor. Cora investigates more into what her son is up to, which leads her to discovering the harrowing truth she may have known all along.
Out of the three films that attempted to capture a mother’s love and the lengths she will go through for her children, this is the only short that really captured it. The film takes a classical hairy tale and looks at the life of a usually forgotten side character, the mother. It also sets up a secondary occult like sub-layer without enough time to explain it in detail. Though this is one of the more non-happening stories it’s also one of the better made for what it was. Directed by Karyn Kusama
The overall production value of the films is likened to a lifetime movie. I say this with no relation to the stories being directed by all females. It’s just what the finished product feels like. I found the overall film mostly technically sound but a bit boring. Perhaps not having a restricted time to film would have helped. I did enjoy the stop motion wrap-around story perhaps more than any of the shorts. Even though it wasn’t the best stop motion I’ve seen, possibly due to time constraints as well. It was still intriguing.
2 out of 5 Headless Critics