As someone who enjoys reading books I always love a good collection of short stories. Like in a written form, some films lend themselves to going the rout of such stories, with the horror genre being a good fit for the anthology treatment. With films like “Creepshow”, “Trick ‘r’ Treat”, and “V/H/S” to name a few, when done right they will become must-owns in your film library. With all the choices you have in the anthology category, one you don’t have is a collection featuring all female directors.
“XX” (as in two x chromosomes) is four stories that will add a little fright into your night. The first story up is “The Box”, which is directed by Jovanka Vuckovic, tells the story of where curiosity can get you. On a simple trip back home from a day of shopping, Susan Jacobs (Natalie Brown) is on the subway with her two kids. Nothing seems out of the ordinary when her son asks a stranger what’s in a gift box that he is holding. Luckily his name is not John Doe, and the event seems to not mean anything. Soon though the son no longer seems to be hungry no matter what is on the menu. Before long other members of the family are affected, simply by knowing what was in the box. Which leads to the family giving up food all together, leaving you the viewer, with zero inclination to ask a stranger “what’s in the box?”
The second film is tilted “The Birthday Party” and is directed by St. Vincent. While your first thought about the story might drift to clowns, you would be wrong. Instead think an accident and a giant panda suit and you would be on the right path. Mary (Melanie Lynskey) is trying to get everything taken care of for her daughter’s birthday. While things are hectic, especially since she is doing everything alone, it would be a lot better if her husband was home to help. Little does she know he is home, but he causes more of a problem for her than if he wasn’t.
The third of four films is “Don’t Fall”, which is directed by Roxanne Benjamin. This story focuses on a group of friends who veer off the beaten path during a camping trip. Little to their knowledge, the group is trespassing on someone or something’s domain. Finally you have Karyn Kusama’s “Her Only Living Son.” This is the story of a mother and her son and the strange things that start happening as he turns eighteen.
There are plenty of things to like about “XX”, mostly the stories. All of them seem simple on the surface, but have undertones that go deeper. The stories though also have their faults as none of them stand out from the others. While that may keep everything on equal ground, it also makes the film over all less memorable. This though would make a decent addition to your horror anthology library, as the scares are enough to enjoy more than once.