This anthology film tells four different stories through the eyes of four different women, all by four different female directors. Following what seems to be a trending theme this year, the trailer for this movie looked amazing while the film itself failed to live up to expectation. The films range from oddly intriguing to absurd and confusing, and I failed to land on one that just settled for being a “good” horror movie. I understand the film was marketed as being a horror movie made for women by women (even the title “XX” is meant to represent the female chromosome makeup), but that doesn’t mean you can’t also reach for being an all around decent horror film. Well, let’s get this over with.
The first film in this anthology is titled “The Box” and centers around a woman (duh) whose son meets a man on a train holding a gift box. Her son asks the man if he can see what’s inside and the man gladly reveals the contents of the box to her son. Her son then refuses to eat and begins to starve, but not before revealing what he saw in the box to his father and sister, but not the mother. The father and sister follow suit and refrain from eating until they also starve, leaving the mother feeling like she can’t provide for her family. Eventually, the three die from starvation and the woman spends the rest of her days riding the train looking for the man with the box. Pretty awful, right? Yeah, I thought so, too. There’s no resolution at all, only the words of the woman’s son saying the box was empty, which I can only assume is supposed to have some deeper meaning, but dammit this is supposed to be a horror movie. I don’t want to read deeper into the movie – I just want entertainment.
Next up we have “The Birthday Party”, which tells the story of a 1950’s picturesque mother who finds her husband dead in their home, having overdosed on some pills. It also happens to be their daughter’s birthday. Set to some of the strangest music I’ve heard in a horror film, we follow this woman as she tries to hide his body all over the house to avoid the daughter finding her dead dad on her birthday. To make things worse, she hosts a birthday party for her daughter with all of her friends at her house, all the while the dead father is in a giant teddy bear costume sitting at the birthday table. Everything falls apart when his corpse falls over in the chair and his teddy bear mask is removed to reveal the dead father. The film ends there, and I’m assuming this is supposed to show the lengths women will go to make sure everyone is happy and everything is fine on the surface – or something to that extent. This was more comedic than the previous film and definitely more entertaining, but still not what I expected when I started the movie.
Okay, we’re halfway done with the movie at this point. Was there any chance the remaining two short films could save this movie? Well, no. Next, we have “Don’t Fall”, which follows a shy woman and her friends as they camp out in the desert for reasons unknown. She stumbles upon some cave markings and then surprisingly transforms into a monster and proceeds to eat all of her friends. This was reminiscent of a werewolf horror movie which was a breath of fresh air and actually something I enjoyed. It had all of the fear and suspense and gore of a horror movie, but fell short on acting and budget. While the first two films focused mainly on messages and meanings, this one went too far the other way and just took a simple werewolf idea and stuck it in a nonexistent plot. Of the four short films, this was the most fun to watch, but it’s not worth sitting through the other films just to see it.
Lastly, we arrive at the fourth and final film – “Her Only Living Son”. This was a weird one. A struggling single mother tries to raise her trouble-making teenage son alone and it gets increasingly difficult throughout the movie. He nails squirrels to trees, rips off the fingernails of other students in school, and apparently is the son of the devil. It’s revealed that the boy’s biological father is actually the devil, and the town he and his mother live in is home to a secret cult that has been watching over the boy as he’s grown. When he turns 18, he becomes uncontrollable and the mother decides to kill him by hugging him to death, (I’m not making this up). She hugs him and he spits up blood and falls dead on the floor. Don’t ask, I have no idea.
This anthology film suffers the same downfall as most other short, anthology films – they get so caught up in their films being “deep” and having some “hidden meaning” that they fail to create a decent horror movie. The talent is there, but it’s aimed in the wrong places. Just focus on making a horror movie and keep your philosophies out of it.
This movie is…
Avoid this one.
Cheers and goodnight.