Review: XX (2017)
By Nat Roberts
For those of you who don’t obsessively follow everything that happens in the genre of horror to the point where your family is concerned about your well-being, XX (2017) premiered at Sundance earlier this year and made waves for being the first, yes the FIRST, horror anthology directed entirely by women. The four directors, Jovanka Vuckovic, Annie Clark (aka the darling St. Vincent), Roxanne Benjamin, and Karyn Kusama, showcase four short horror films that through a female lens that feel noticeably different than most films in the genre.
It begins with Vuckovic’s The Box, which follows a suburban mother and her family through an unsettling turn of events after an encounter with a strange man on a train. This short, like two of the others in XX, explores themes of motherhood through the lens of an actual female director, and kept me rapt for its entirety.
Next is Annie Clark’s The Birthday Party, probably the least “scary”of the four, but a wild wide of visual artistry and wonderful design. This is another short that looks at motherhood, albeit in a little more fun way than The Box. While this is technically horror, it’s still a delight to watch and a wonderful new venture for Clark.
Following that we have Don’t Fall by Roxanne Benjamin (who also co-wrote The Birthday Party), a film which can be seen as the most classic horror in the anthology, as we see four 20-something friends camping in a place they shouldn’t be and the bloody events that follow. The most stand-out aspect of this one for me was the character relationships, while the scares do deserve an honorable mention.
The final of the four is Kusama’s Her Only Living Son. Kusama also directed The Invitation (2015) and continues to prove herself as a wonderful horror filmmaker with this short. The film also looks at motherhood, but this time with a little more supernatural elements. The eerie atmosphere and fear found through the main character remind me of Tilda Swinton in We Need to Talk About Kevin, and just may be my favorite of the four.
Overall, XX is an fun watch. While it’s not the most frightening, it showcases that women make good horror, and shouldn’t be so dismally underrepresented in the genre. There were no horrific things done to women’s body as is so often a theme, and the female characters were presented as people - something not often seen with blockbuster horror flicks. I hope we can see more female-driven horror anthologies in the future, but for now I am pleased to see these four women kicking ass and making monsters.
XX is now streaming on Netflix