XX Storyline

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.

Filmmakers Jovanka Vuckovic, Annie Clark, Roxanne Benjamin and Karyn Kusama present four horrific tales of terror. In “The Box,” a boy (Peter DaCunha) starts to display strange behavior after looking inside a mysterious gift box. In “The Birthday Party,” a woman (Melanie Lynskey) refuses to let an untimely death ruin her son’s bash. In “Don’t Fall,” an innocent camping trip turns deadly, and in “Her Only Living Son,” a mother (Christina Kirk) must deal with the child from hell.
Initial release: February 17, 2017 (Canada)

I’m sorry to report that this year’s “XX” doesn’t quite live up to the great horror anthology that its trailer promises. This quarter of female-directed horror shorts is actually quite average, when considered together, and I’d give it a 6 out of 10.Only the first segment is truly memorable — “The Box,” adapted from a short story by Jack Ketchum. The directing and scoring is superb. (Seriously, the music is quite good.) The acting is also good throughout this segment, most especially by “The Strain’s” Natalie Brown. She’s a good actress and she’s starting to grow on me. (And her memorable last lines here, which I assume come from the text of Ketchum’s story, are weird and haunting.) This quarter of “XX” gets under your skin.Despite “The Box” being capably developed and unnerving, however, there were no conventional scares at all. It hardly felt like a horror short; it was more like a particularly macabre and ambiguous parable. Nor is the story’s mystery solved — it’s left open-ended.

The second segment is largely a waste of time, despite being stylishly shot and scored. (Hint: it’s got the same story device as “Weekend at Bernie’s.”)The remaining two tales are more standard horror stories. I’d suggest they are somewhat fair at best.I think I would recommend this only to the most well rounded horror fans who are in the mood for something different. And, even then, it might only be for the peculiar elements of “The Box.”


Cast overview, first billed only:
Natalie Brown Natalie Brown
Susan Jacobs (segment “The Box”)
Jonathan Watton Jonathan Watton
Robert Jacobs (segment “The Box”)
Peter DaCunha Peter DaCunha
Danny Jacobs (segment “The Box”)
Peyton Kennedy Peyton Kennedy
Jenny Jacobs (segment “The Box”)
Ron Lea Ron Lea
Dr. Weller (segment “The Box”)
Michael Dyson Michael Dyson
The Man (segment “The Box”)
Melanie Lynskey Melanie Lynskey
Mary (segment “The Birthday Party”)
Seth Duhame Seth Duhame
David (segment “The Birthday Party”)
Sanai Victoria Sanai Victoria
Lucy (segment “The Birthday Party”)
Sheila Vand Sheila Vand
Carla (segment “The Birthday Party”)
Lindsay Burdge Lindsay Burdge
Madeleine (segment “The Birthday Party”)
Valeria Chavez Valeria Chavez
Party Goer (segment “The Birthday Party”)
Jay Chirinos Jay Chirinos
Party Goer (segment “The Birthday Party”)
Laura G. Chirinos Laura G. Chirinos
Party Goer (segment “The Birthday Party”)
Brooklyn Hatrak Brooklyn Hatrak
Party Goer (segment “The Birthday Party”)