5 items from 2017
Stars: Natalie Brown, Jonathan Watton, Peter DaCunha, Melanie Lynskey, Seth Duhame, Sanai Victoria, Casey Adams, Breeda Wool, Angela Trimbur, Christina Kirk, Kyle Allen, Mike Doyle | Directed by Roxanne Benjamin, Karyn Kusama, Annie Clark, Jovanka Vuckovic
Genres like horror survive by having many voices to tell their tales. There needs to be imagination, and there needs to be different perspectives to show that people are frightened by different things, or in some cases the same thing. This is where Xx comes in, an anthology of horror written and directed by women.
In Xx we are given four stories, each completely separate from each other. The first is The Box, which is arguably the best of the four, then The Birthday Party, Don’t Fall, and finally Her Only Living Son.
- Paul Metcalf
To begin, we must acknowledge a painful fact: omnibus features are only as strong as their weakest link, and it’s clear that production company Xyz Films learned from its past. Xx, thankfully better than the company’s recent Holidays, features four female-directed psychological horror shorts that in large part take on motherhood, domestic life, and parenting. Perhaps it should have stopped there, with two strong stand-outs (Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, with The Birthday Party, and Karyn Kusama’s Her Only Living Son), the decent The Box (by Jovanka Vuckovic), and the weak link, Roxanne Benjamin’s Don’t Fall. It was as if the best three followed a carefully prescribed assignment; Don’t Fall attempts to jam a feature’s worth of suspense into a short that needed a lot more build-up. Also at odds with the tone is Sofia Carrillo’s beautiful, gothic interstitials of cracked porcelain »
- John Fink
Xx – an all-female directed horror anthology – couldn’t push against genre representation at a better time. You’d think those involved would come out fiery, focused and full of appropriate rage given current gender voicelessness. This was a chance for horror to champion female filmmakers, yet assertions are tepid at best. Even past the failed settling of gender scores, Xx lacks horror establishment of the basest engagement. Only one chapter stands out (victorious because of competition), while three more efforts drag their feet without enthusiasm. No statement is made, no mic is dropped and no lasting message lingers past the credits. Enjoy another mixed bag of spooky stories that do no bumping in any night.
Please note, such disinterest isn’t because my feeble male brain can’t comprehend a different perspective. Three of the four main characters are mothers, all caught in family dilemmas. That’s not where my disconnection stems. »
- Matt Donato
Great horror cinema is so often about playing the long game, waiting out the slow burn, that it can be tricky to achieve in short form: A 20-minute runtime affords even the deftest filmmaker precious little room to nurture intrigue, ramp up tension and deliver a bone-deep payoff. Four talented female filmmakers give it their best shot in the polished portmanteau pic “Xx,” with predictably mixed results — though it says much about the difficulty of the proposal in the first place that the most satisfying entry in the quartet isn’t really a horror film at all. That’d be the comically antic contribution by cooler-than-thou musician-turned-filmmaker Annie Clark (better known in the media as St. Vincent), whose auspicious directorial presence alone adds a coat of cult potential to the project. Meanwhile, more experienced hands Karyn Kusama, Roxanne Benjamin and Jovanka Vuckovic turn in more traditional chillers in a range of registers, »
- Guy Lodge
Horror anthologies can be a tough feat to pull off, especially when you’re trying to pull together different filmmakers’ visions into one cohesive experience. That being said, Xx, which recently celebrated its world premiere at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, succeeds in delivering four wildly distinct stories from several female directors, featuring the talents of Jovanka Vuckovic, Karyn Kusama, Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent), and Roxanne Benjamin. Beyond just its historical significance, Xx stands out as one of the more successful anthologies we’ve seen as of late, regardless of the gender of its directors.
Xx starts off with Vuckovic’s contribution, The Box, which is based on a story of the same name by acclaimed author Jack Ketchum. In the segment, we follow Susan (Natalie Brown), a mother who watches helplessly as an unknown force literally consumes her family after her son, Danny (Peter DaCunha), takes a peek inside »
- Heather Wixson
5 items from 2017
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