“Or rather, XXXX”
...because this is an anthology film with four stories, you see, so either that or something like FOUR BLOODY KISSES might have been a better title. Anyway, XX (which doesn’t really mean anything), an anthology movie whose ‘gimmick’ is that all its stories are written and directed by, and starring women, is getting a UK DVD release from Thunderbird.
In common with many modern anthology movies, there’s nothing to link the stories, which are essentially four short films placed one after another to make something that, at 73 minutes minus the credits, is barely feature length. And that’s a shame because at least two of the stories in here could have benefitted from longer running times, or alternatively we could have had a fifth story for our money. As it stands, however, the line-up for XX is still pretty good and certainly worth a watch.
We kick off with The Box, adapted from a Jack Ketchum story. Jovanka Vuckovic directs a tale where something glimpsed in a box stops a woman’s son from eating. Then her daughter, and finally her husband. Tapping nicely into what must be a common enough domestic fear, sadly the story doesn’t really go anywhere.
Things improve quite a bit with The Birthday Party from Annie Clark. Mum Mary (Melanie Lynskey from Peter Jackson’s HEAVENLY CREATURES) is preparing for her little girl’s birthday party when she finds the dead body of her husband. Some weird and stylish hilarity ensues, culminating in the birthday party itself attended by kids in some of the best children’s party costumes I have ever seen. I especially liked the little boy dressed as a purple toilet.
Third is Roxanne Benjamin’s Don’t Fall, in which four friends stumble on a Native American demon while on a camping trip. The monster is great and nicely visualised but the segment is far too short - an extra ten minutes here would have allowed for a bit more atmosphere and character development and turned this from something that’s merely quite good into a little classic.
Finally we get Karyn THE INVITATION Kusama’s Her Only Living Son, which is a case of ROSEMARY’S BABY: 18 years later. Again, like in the first story, there’s the sense that this one needs an extra five minutes at the end so it actually does have an end. It’s quite good but really needs something more to make it memorable.
The stories are linked / padded by some appealing animation that would perhaps have been even more fun if animator Sofia Carillo had been allowed to make a fifth story of her own.
Thunderbird’s DVD Extras include interviews with all four directors and Sofia Carillo. As anthologies movies go XX isn’t bad, and each director here is obviously talented and has interesting and scary things to show us. But the stories do need more breathing room. Let’s hope we get to see more (in every sense) in the future from everyone responsible for this project.
XX is out on UK DVD from Thunderbird Releasing on Monday 8th May 2017