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.
I had done my best to avoid spoilers for this film; so well, in fact, that I actually had no idea about the all-female directors and leads. Personally, apart from The Birthday Party, it didn’t really come across as “all-female” leads, but I’ll let you decide that for yourself. Although I usually try and keep my reviews as spoiler-free as possible, that’s somewhat hard to do with an anthology of short films. Instead, let’s take a look at the shorts individually.
An unnerving tale about a boy who stares into creepy guy's gift box on the subway and thereafter loses his appetite. Whist that might not be the most terrifying of synopses, the short is definitely unsettling. It's mostly a psychological horror that somehow feels more like a eerie haunted house flick — probably due to the score and editing. It's incredibly strange but also strangely good; definitely memorable. My only real critique would be the ending as I felt it really left me with more questions than answers…although that may very well have been the point.
The Birthday Party
A very peculiar tale indeed; one very hard to actually summarize without sounding like I'm making it up. A very anxious woman finds her husband dead from an overdose the morning of her daughter’s birthday party. Instead of canceling the party, she instead struggles to try and pull it off without anyone discovering the truth. Whilst not my favourite of the four, it is very cleverly shot. The music and cinematography are amazing and there is a lot of dark humour and colourful characters for such a short piece. It was very different kind of entertainment with a refreshing change of pace.
This one drags takes us right back to the more traditionally styled horror films, or perhaps it would be better to say the more common, cheesy genres we know and love. Four old friends out camping and hiking (in a place they aren't supposed to be) discover some Annunaki-looking cave paintings and are later attacked by some equally alien looking chupacabra-esque thing. It's magical. I could watch shit like this all day, every day. The characters were ripened cheese, the plot was Swiss cheese, the writing was Blue cheese, and the execution was a delicious Camembert. This was probably the least creative or intelligent piece, but easily the most fun.
Her Only Living Son
Our last short has the longest runtime out of the bunch, taking up almost a third of the entire film. It begins with a good dosage of intrigue which continues to build throughout its entirety. The short condenses what could be a much more fleshed out story into an intense and enthralling half-hour. It feels a little like a reimagining of The Omen, but with a much faster pace and purpose. It's something quite special. It was a really enjoyable conclusion to the anthology and a smart pick for the ending piece.
The transitional stop-animations were excellent but really didn't suit the atmosphere of the shorts. They were very AHS, and while they told their own bizarre little story, they really did nothing to tie the anthology together.
Overall, I really enjoyed the film. I wouldn’t say that I was amazed by any of the pieces or that the film blew me away, but I was definitely entertained. It’s absolutely something I’d recommend for a movie night or for a Halloween party as I can see it being fun shared with friends. Catch the trailer below.
Site founder. Horror enthusiast. Metalhead.