Monday, March 27, 2017

Review: XX has some subtle, disturbing ideas. Doesn't quite take flight.

XX Review

"XX" is being sold as an anthology film made by four women. Each women directed one story segment. This may not appease the ant-SJW crowd, but I liked the prospects this could have created. Some people are so blown away when a woman directs a horror film. I remember reading and watching about Mary Harron directing "American Psycho" and how nobody could believe that something so despicable, violent and vulgar could come from a woman. Anybody at anytime can surprise you in any genre. 

There is an anime that connects the four segments together. While the animation of the walking doll house anime is quite cool, and visually arresting, it really makes no sense. In "V/H/S," the wrap around story was about people shifting through video tapes in haunted houses. There was a connection between the tapes and the wrap-around story, which made the movie experience much better. This anime doesn't connect with the other segments. I studied each wrap-around anime sequence quite hard, and I don't see any connective tissue that links it to the other segments. Its quite beautiful, but mildly disappointing.

The first segment, "The Box" is honestly every parents worst nightmare. What do we do when our loved ones don't eat? A woman's son looks into a box on a train, and suddenly for days, even weeks, he doesn't eat. He is healthy physically, he's just not hungry. He's not hungry for days. Then suddenly, whomever he tells what he saw in the box, they suddenly stop eating. Its a primal fear for anybody who has cared for anyone. I mean, I freak out if my two dogs don't eat, so I can only imagine what I'll be like as a father with children. The segment does a good job setting up a tension, and a rot inside two parents trying to understand what is going on with their children. Sadly, its a segment that ultimately goes nowhere, but its one of the better of the four. 

That's the trickiness with anthology movies, particularly anthology horror films. Can you make the segments connect in a significant way. Are there themes and metaphors to the segments, and if so, what are they? Its not necessarily bad when the segments are random and there is no apparent connective tissue between them. But it makes for an experience with less impact. Plus, if you are going to make a horror anthology, make your segments terrifying. I can honestly say there are some good, even great ideas in this anthology. There is a wicked humor to "The Birthday Party" that I appreciate, "Don't Fall" is a spooky little desertland fairytale that would have been better if it weren't for the bad CGI, and "Her Only Living Son" is a fun riff on the "you're son is the devil" story. There is some genuine creepiness on display for many of the segments. I just wish I was shuttering while typing. Which I am not.

But in the future, good luck to Roxanne Benjamin, Sofia Carrillo, Karyn Kusama, St. Vincent and Jovanka Vuckovic for their sometimes riveting, othertimes mediocre work done on this anthology. I think all of these women have a good eye for the terror, and if they channel it in the right ways in the future, they have some homeruns they will hitting out of the ballpark. All of these women show promise and sometimes, that's what is most important.

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