Thursday, March 2, 2017

[Review] XX

Billed as "Four Deadly Tales by Four Deadly Women", XX is a collection of short horror films that tap into the strange, the gross, and the gruesome, but none of it is really all that scary or memorable.

First up is The Box, which revolves around a suburban family and the nosey young son who suddenly stops eating after he peeks into a Christmas present that he wasn't supposed to. The film fully hinges on the mystery of what he saw and why it's making him behave the way he is, but not a whole lot happens between the beginning and end, so it feels like an extended one-note tease that unfortunately doesn't offer up much in the way of payoff. If that's the point, then I guess the point is empty.

Annie Clark aka St. Vincent makes her directorial debut with Birthday Party, which stars Melanie Lynskey as a mother in the midst of last-minute preparations for her daughter's birthday celebration. Much to her shock, she finds her husband's cold, dead body slumped in an office chair (!), and she does her best to hide it before all the hyper little guests arrive. It's so absurd and amusing, comical and colorful, and there's a manic and stylish quality to it. It's a playful and creepy farce about someone trying to make everything perfect only to have things go the complete opposite.

In Don't Fall an obnoxious group of hikers set up a campsite in a remote (and possibly off-limits) section of the desert. One of them is stung by what appears to be a cursed petroglyph and shes turns into a demonic beast. Thanks to some killer makeup and special effects, the monster looks pretty terrifying and there's a particularly great shot of its silhouette against a foggy moonlit backdrop. But as far as story, it doesn't really do anything different from a run-of-the-mill creature-feature, aside from its agreeable and cautionary Stop messing around with sacred stuff! narrative.

And lastly, Karyn Kusama (The Invitation) directs Her Only Living Son, a film that delves into the life of a mother worrying about her unhinged, anti-social son (he pins squirrels to trees and tortures other kids at school). It appears to be a We Need to Talk About Kevin situation. Initially this is the darkest, the most engaging, and most tonally solid of the bunch, so I thought Okay they've saved the best for last... But then the film takes a ridiculous and anti-climactic turn. Ugh.

XX isn't a bad thing to throw on around Halloween time, but overall the end results are disappointing.

( 6/10 )

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