A video artist looking for work drives to a remote house in the forest to meet a man claiming to be a serial killer. But after agreeing to spend the day with him, she soon realizes that she made a deadly mistake.
XX is a new horror anthology with a gender twist - all segments will be helmed by female directors and will star female leads. The directors have been given free creative rein within budget and time constraints, but all of the segments themselves will involve the horror genre. Written by
An interesting collection of ideas, unfortunately not fit for the format.
Proposing a collection of original shorts in a horror landscape over-saturated with remakes and old recipes is a daring proposition, with or without gender twist. XX delivers four 20 minutes works with an episodic animated sequence as interlude. While the animated part is simply masterful, the quality of the shorts varies.
1st Short: The Box. This short seems to draw an illustration of how a dysfunctional family would end up if closeted drama and shouting exchanges were replaced by a supernatural element. Rather ambient, it lets you wonder what to expect. Unfortunately, the conclusion misses the target and leaves you wanting something more elaborate.
2nd Short: The Birthday party. Expedited premise and hardly believable character behavior make this short rather weak. It seems to be intended as a joke and it sort of, kind of work if you're a good audience. Good material for fan theory, but nothing memorable.
3rd Short: Don't fall. Typical monster story, with all the clichés of the genre packed into way too little time to deliver any kind of tension. A success if you want to watch absolutely every (bad) monster film in 20 minutes, a failure if you're looking for anything else.
4rh Short: Her only living son. The best of the lot, with a tense ambiance from early on, and the only one with enough background to establish a more solid story line. The female lead knows how to act, and the dramatic arc is built better than in the 3 other shorts. Nonetheless, some of the narrative is expedited and make the story fall a bit flat.
Ultimately, the bundle gives the impression that none of the stories were meant for the short format to begin with, and try to follow the same formula as full feature films while condensing it in 20 minutes. As a result most of the shorts rest on interesting ideas but none seems to know whether to be a trailer or a feature film, to the detriment of tension and narrative.
It remains that there are far worse movies around. "The box" and "Her only living son" have a compelling second level of reading and can push your empathy buttons just right, and "The Birthday Party" might make you smile ("Don't Fall", though is a total miss). Funnily enough the 20 minutes format, as ambiguous as it is, also makes sure that no story overstays its welcome.
I'll give it a 5 for effort and for the animation. Watch it if you want something a bit different, and for some good starting ideas if you're a fiction writer. Give it a rain check if you're looking for a mind-blowing work.
The good: Interesting ideas + Good metaphors + Refreshing formula + Masterful animated intermezzos
The meh: - Average acting - Narrative doesn't fit the format well - Soundtrack could be more subtle
The bad: - The whole 3rd short (Don't fall). - The mood lapse between the 1rst and 2nd short.
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