‘Four deadly tales by four killer women’
XX is a 2016 American horror anthology film produced by XYZ Films (Tusk) with four female directors: Karyn Kusama (The Invitation; Jennifer’s Body), Jennifer Chambers Lynch (Hiss; Surveillance), Jovanka Vuckovic and Annie Clark (St. Vincent). It stars Natalie Brown, Melanie Lynskey, Breeda Wool and Christina Kirk.
Each of the directors was given free creative rein for their segments. The anthology is framed by stop-motion-animated segments depicting a walking dollhouse, directed by Sofia Carrillo.
The film had its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 22, 2017 before it makes VOD debut via Magnet Releasing on February 17th.
While riding on a train with his mother Susan, a young boy, Danny, sees an old man with a red box; the old man describes it as “a present” and allows Danny to look inside. After looking, Danny refuses to eat any food presented to him.
Susan and her husband Robert start to worry about him, taking him to a doctor who finds that Danny has lost five pounds since his last checkup. Danny speaks with his sister Jenny, and soon after, she refuses to eat as well.
Robert attempts to speak to Danny about his refusal to eat, but Danny whispers something in his ear, which causes Robert to start refusing food…
The Birthday Party:
Mary is attempting to hold a birthday party for her daughter Lucy, but when she finds her husband David dead in his home office, she is forced to hide the body. She spends the day frantically trying to conceal David’s body from Lucy, nanny Carla, and neighbor Madeleine. She finally buys a panda costume off of a man who comes to sing Lucy a birthday song, and hides the body in the costume…
Four friends – Paul, Gretchen, Jess, and Jay – are all on an expedition out in the desert. Gretchen is afraid of heights. The four discover an ancient cave painting depicting an evil spirit before camping out for the night. Gretchen is attacked by a creature similar to the spirit in the painting, which takes over her body and wears her skin…
Her Only Living Son:
Single mother Cora’s rebellious son, Andy, is about to turn eighteen years-old. She is called into Andy’s school to meet with the principal regarding an incident in which Andy tore off a classmate’s fingernails.
The principal apologizes to Cora that she had to witness an “outburst” from the classmate’s mother, and tells Cora that her son is remarkable. Cora is deeply unnerved that her son appears to have entranced his superiors…
“At first glance the toys/dollhouse theme don’t link particularly thematically to the stories, but they’re extremely cool regardless. That sense of coolness is present throughout all the work on display in XX. It’s a very enjoyable and often scary anthology that shows a ton of promise from its directors.” Ryland Aldrich, Screen Anarchy
“Clark, Carillo, Benjamin, Kusama and Vuckovic have done what they set out to do: showcase female voices in genre. This in itself is a bold statement. The rest is just wildly entertaining cinema. Like the best anthologies, XX has something for everyone. I hope its success provides ample opportunities for these filmmakers to continue scaring us.” Ben Larned, Bloody Disgusting
“While each segment has its moments, though, none of them are completely satisfying, and only one of them truly comes close to hitting its intended target. There may be a vague through line about upending the traditional female roles of mother, wife and caretaker, but if XX is trying to make some sort of statement, it’s not doing so with much clarity or power.” Christy Lemire, RogerEbert.com
“With each short running around 20 minutes, there’s little time to develop character or dramatic nuance, let alone lay the crucial groundwork to seed escalating terror. And aside from Clark’s self-contained vignette, in which the terrific Lynskey supplies the anthology’s most fully fleshed-out character, the stories tend to feel incomplete, ending abruptly and leaving little aftertaste.” David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
“My personal favorites were “The Birthday Party,” thanks to its wonderful irreverence and pitch-black sense of humor, and “Don’t Fall,” which on a sheer execution level is a rocket-fueled nightmare trip full of images I’m still thinking about. But even if some segments don’t play as well as others, they each have interesting things to say…” Bryan Bishop, The Verge
“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 […] 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.” John Llewellyn Probert, House of Mortal Cinema
“It’s fascinating to observe how the feminine perspectives of “XX” create for powerfully compelling and original horror tales that operate within the genre while testing the boundaries of traditional storytelling and style. It’s an argument for inclusion and a celebration of unique female voices in this world.” Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times
“Approaches vary from quietly chilly psycho-terror to effects-driven shock […] A trim, evenly-paced 80 minutes, XX is one of the more consistent contemporary horror anthologies.” Kim Newman, Screen Daily
Natalie Brown, Mike Doyle, Christina Kirk, Kyle Allen, Peyton Kennedy, Peter DaCunha, Ron Lea, Jonathan Watton, Lisa Renee Pitts, and Morgan Peter Brown.