Movie Review - XX (2017)

If one were asked to make a list of the top directors of horror films, one could probably name a hundred men before even thinking about a woman director. This isn't specific to horror films. Action films and science-fiction are similar. One doesn't find a lot of women helming those genres. Women are scarce when it comes to being in the main chair of any big-budget production. It's not to say there aren't any examples of women directing horror. There's Mary Harron's American Psycho (2000) and recently Jennifer Kent's The Babadook (2014). Yet, for the most part, it's a rare occurrence, which makes this movie special because it collects four women to direct four short, horror films.

Jovanka Vuckovic directs The Box, the first short film. It follows a woman who becomes worried when her son refuses to eat anything. It's not like in Leave It To Beaver when the little boy refused to eat his vegetables. Here, the son won't eat anything, even pizza or sweets. It's implied that the son was hypnotized or cursed like in Stephen King's Thinner, but if so, it's not due to revenge or anything the son or his family did. Therefore, I'm not sure what the point is. Themes of exclusion and isolation are at play. The issue at hand is starvation, seemingly self-imposed starvation. Vuckovic's film is therefore a kind of metaphor for anorexia, but if so, I'm still unclear as to what her message here is, unless it's just basically that anorexia is bad.

Annie Clark aka St. Vincent directs The Birthday Party, the second short film. There is no message here. It's just a wacky, horror-comedy. It's basically a riff on Weekend at Bernie's (1989). Instead of Andrew McCarthy, Clark has Melanie Lynskey (Two and a Half Men and Togetherness) and the unlikely use of a panda suit.

Roxanne Benjamin directs Don't Fall, the third short film, which is your run-of-the-mill, demonic possession and monster movie. It might come off as a tad offensive as it ascribes the evil stuff to Native American lore. Otherwise, it's your typical tale of four young people who go camping and start dying horrifically one-by-one.

Karyn Kusama directs Her Only Living Son, the fourth and final short film here. It's similar to Kusama's The Invitation (2016) in that it deals with a cult. Cults appear to be a fascination for Kusama. Even the actor who plays the titular son, Kyle Allen, was in the TV series The Path on Hulu, which is also about a cult. This movie though focuses on a single mom and her adolescent son. It takes the metaphor that some make about adolescence to an extreme. At first, the movie felt like it would go the way of Lynne Ramsay's We Need to Talk About Kevin (2012) but then it became an imagining of Rosemary's Baby (1968) years down the line when the titular character was now a teen and maybe wanted to meet his father.

Rated R for horror violence, language and brief drug use.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 21 mins.


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