10th May2017

‘XX’ DVD Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Natalie Brown, Jonathan Watton, Peter DaCunha, Melanie Lynskey, Seth Duhame, Sanai Victoria, Casey Adams, Breeda Wool, Angela Trimbur, Christina Kirk, Kyle Allen, Mike Doyle | Directed by Roxanne Benjamin, Karyn Kusama, Annie Clark, Jovanka Vuckovic


Genres like horror survive by having many voices to tell their tales. There needs to be imagination, and there needs to be different perspectives to show that people are frightened by different things, or in some cases the same thing. This is where XX comes in, an anthology of horror written and directed by women.

In XX we are given four stories, each completely separate from each other. The first is The Box, which is arguably the best of the four, then The Birthday Party, Don’t Fall, and finally Her Only Living Son.

The Box is interesting because it uses mystery in an artful way. When Susan’s (Natalie Brown) son Danny (Peter DaCunha) asks to see a present which a man on the subway is holding, the man allows him a peek inside. From then on, Danny refuses to eat and slowly wastes away, but as he reveals the secret of the box the wasting slowly takes Susan’s whole family with it.

The power of The Box is that we never really know what was in the box, or why the family refuse to eat. It works on a fear though, of losing our families. While this is a fear that all people fear, The Box shows Susan as the mother taking the loss very deeply, and we see it from her perspective and empathise with what she is going through as she can’t protect her family from it.

The Birthday Party is arguably the tamest of the stories, featuring a dead body and a mother’s (Melanie Lynskey) attempt to hide it. Taking part during her daughter’s birthday party, the darkly comedic end is fitting and is genuinely funny.

Don’t Fall is the closest to a typical horror, and features a group of friends on a trip into the desert. With one of the characters seemingly possessed she slowly kills her friends. While the killer is female, this is the story that feels the most generic, but this isn’t a bad thing. In horror, we are used to a good monster movie, and this fits the bill well.

In Her Only Living Son, we are given a Rosemary’s Baby style story that becomes very interesting. Think of it like Rosemary’s Baby meets We Need to Talk About Kevin, but with a twist. This, along with The Box feels to have the most female focus of the story, and manages to turn Rosemary’s Baby into a story about a mother’s strength and love for her son. While it may not end up how she the mother wanted it to, it still manages to have a powerful end.

I like the idea that XX was created to give female directors and writers a voice and use female leads, and it does it well. Roxanne Benjamin, Karyn Kusama, Annie Clark (St. Vincent), and Jovanka Vuckovic show that they know horror film making and they do it well.

While it may be the point that these horror tales don’t feel too far off from what we expect from “typical” male led horror films. This in itself adds to the argument that we need more female directors and writers in what are seen as the “big jobs”. Why this isn’t already the case, is of course a problem that needs solving. Horror thrives of diversity and many voices, and always will.

XX offer tales of horror that are a little braver than your average tales of fright, and are well worth watching. While they may not follow the usual path most horror films take, they bring something new (this is indie horror after all). That is the power of the directors and writers on show, and coupled with strong casts, this is exactly why XX manages to prove the point that women are damn good at creating effective horror.

****½  4.5/5

XX is available on DVD now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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