XX is a 2017 horror anthology directed and written by and starring only female directors and actresses. It’s a quite nice concept, resembling the success of the VHS and ABCs of Death franchises.
It features four different stories, linked to each other by a stop-motion-animated segments depicting a walking dollhouse directed by Sofia Carrillo. To begin with, these segments have nothing to do with the plots of the other shorts, beyond being completely pointless.
Back to the stories, each one of them has a short runtime, which goes from 22 minutes (for the first one) to the 14 minutes of The Birthday Party.
The Box, written and directed by Jovanka Vuckovic and starring Natalie Brown, is the starting point and it features a family dealing with the lack of hunger of their son, which began when he gave a quick glimpse to a mysterious box carried on the tube by a creepy dude. After being checked unsuccessfully by a doctor, the son starts to secretly explain to the other family members why he stopped eating and, with no further reasons, everybody gets along with him, apart from the mother. Without spoiling the ending, the plot and its execution are quite poorly made in my opinion, with Natalie Brown’s performance and the good production values as the only redeeming qualities.
Unfortunately, The Box is also the only watchable sketch out of the four. The Birthday Party, written and directed by Annie Clark and starring Melanie Lynskey, tells the story of a woman who, at her daughter’s birthday, finds out the death body of her husband and decides not to tell anyone because she doesn’t want to disappoint her family and friends. Although the author’s will of providing a black-comedy vibe is clear, this segment looks cheesy and meaningless, and it features a worthless cinematography and even worst acting. It has no scary moments nor unsettling ones whatsoever.
Don’t Fall is the third segment, a creature-feature short written and directed by Roxanne Benjamin that stars Breeda Wool. Basically it consists of a rip-off from the already lame Primal (2010), telling the story of four friends who go climbing, find some creepy cave-paintings and one of them turns into a monster-like creature and starts to tear the others apart. This one is simply laughable: there isn’t a single moment of tension, the practical effects look like they belong to a movie you should find on the Sci-fi channel at 2am, the acting is bland and the all look and feel is just cheesy.
Her only living son, written and directed by Karyn Kusama and starring Christina Kirk, revolves around a mother who basically gave birth to her son after an agreement with the devil. The son, who’s now 18 years old, starts to change physically and psychologically, because the devil claims his soul. Despite the synopsis sounds quite lazy and silly, this was the segment with most potential, in my humble opinion. Unfortunately, beyond a general decent level of acting, it falls short because of the poor execution and the too brief runtime.
Sure enough, the short runtime is what kills this product. I strongly believe that it is nearly impossible to realise a decent story within such a brief runtime. Although, Lights Out (the YouTube short, not the movie) has been able to go under many people skin, thanks to its tone and creepiness.
On the other hand, the fact that this 80-minute-long movie is split in four different segments saves it from being completely unwatchable. Another aspect the directors should be praised for is the lack of jump-scares, except for a small one in Don’t Fall.
Other than that, XX is a disposable, little interesting product, where the execution makes the good concept behind it fail. I don’t recommend to see this one guys, but if you are bored and have 80 minutes to waste, give it a chance, it can’t harm. Cheers!