XX (2017)


2017 | Horror | 1hr 20mins

Directed by:  Karyn Kusama, Jovanka Vuckovic, St. Vincent, Roxanne Benjamin

Written by: Jack Ketchum, Jovanka Vuckovic (The Box)St. Vincent, Roxanne Benjamin ( The Birthday),
Roxanne Benjamin (Don’t Fall)Karyn Kusama ( Her Only Living Son)

“The Box”
– A boy starts to display strange behavior after looking into a mysterious boxed.
“The Birthday” – A stepford wife refuses to let a dead body ruin her daughter’s birthday party, what better way than to hide it in plain sight.
“Don’t Fall” – four friends venture out in the desert for a nice hike and camping, but they stumble across petroglyphs and awaken an ancient curse.
“Her Only Living Son” –  In this coming of age tale, a single mother struggles to hold on to her son while he experiences abnormal physical changes.

Noteworthy: This anthology is supported with an avant- garde, stop motion interlude between each segment, created by Sofia Carrillo



-The Box-
A mother takes her young son and daughter to Manhattan for a day of shopping and fun just before the Christmas holiday. While on the train ride back to the suburbs, they encounter a man holding a gift box. The boy asks the if he can take a peek inside, but once he does, he is stunned to silence. When
they return home, the boy politely rejects any food given to him; stating he is simply not hungry. This affliction soon spreads to other family members, but the mother is the only immune to the “virus.”

The depressing tone of the short, along with the disconnection between the parents, provides a sense of hopelessness. However, Jovanka Vuckovic’s direction fails to give the audience any satisfaction or closure. The ending is open for interpretation, almost to a point of frustration or confusion. I find myself relating to Brad Pitt in ‘Seven’ – “What’s in the fucking box?!?”


-The Birthday-
Mary just wants her daughter to have a happy birthday. The guests are set to arrive in one hour when she stumbles upon a dead body in her home. Instead of calling the police, she decides to stash the body and get back to prepping for the party. Unfortunately, in the midst of all the chaos she runs out of time and is forced to hide the body in plain sight. What could go wrong?

This short is the complete opposite of the first one and it is awesome. The retro style home boasts lots of light with the big windows, creating a bright, colorful setting.  St. Vincent and Roxanne Benjamin do a great job serving up some death with a side of comedy. Mary seems to be the typical stepford wife, always tidying up and keeping up appearances; however, there is also a lingering feeling that she is slowly losing control. She remains in her risqué pajamas for the entire short. Even as guests arrive, she doesn’t try to get ready. In fact, she is pretty much to the point of “Screw it.” She sits down and pours herself a drink, still in her underwear.

The guests arrive in costume for some reason. There is a seahorse, a toilet and whatever the hell that thing is supposed to be (see picture above). As Mary sits at the table, the cinematography changes. The use of slow motion and the choice for the score really adds intensity to the scene as she contemplates her life, surrounded by the complete chaos of the party. 


-Don’t Fall-
Four friends go hiking and camping in the desert. They come across petroglyphs and awaken an ancient curse when one of the woman cuts her hand, spilling blood on the ground. They head back to camp to have a few drinks and unwind.


Gretchen wakes up in the middle of the night and finds herself in the desert. She notices her hand is heavily infected and she is lying under another petroglyph. She begins to make her way back to camp, slightly confused and in pain, when she come across a creature who attacks her instantly. One of the friends sees Gretchen outside, but it’s no longer Gretchen. She has morphed into some type of beast and goes after all of her friends.

This is the weakest segment when it comes to plot, acting, and dialogue; however, it makes up for it with the gore and a more sinister tone.


-Her Only Living Son-

Cora and her son Andy live in a seemingly nice, small town, but their relationship itself is hanging by a thread.  Andy is turning 18 and is going through some sort of physical or emotional change. On top of that, he finds himself longing to be near his absent father. He violently acts out in school, ripping off a fellow student’s fingernails (ouch!). Despite this, the school refuses to punish him. They instead insist he is some sort of prodigy and he should be protected. An uneasy feeling comes over Cora and she returns home to find a note, “Going to Rudy’s after practice, home tomorrow. – A.” Andy is clearly avoiding her at this point, but Cora proceeds to make him birthday cake and then heads off to bed. She is woken by a nightmare. As she catches her breath, she hears a strange noise in her home. Andy is in the bathroom; there is blood and he is clearly distressed.


Meanwhile, Chet, the seemingly charming mailman turns creep pretty quick and Cora realizes the town she lives in has been keeping an eye on her and her son for quite some time. Turns out Andy’s father made a certain offering a few years back to a man they call “him.”  

There is a strong implication that Andy is the devils son, the anti-christ. This would explain his physical changes and desire to inflict pain. The scene goes dark and a creature appears. Andy holds on tight to his mom, hoping to survive….


Final Thoughts

Overall this film was, meh, which pains me to say because I was very excited about the directors being women. There was potential here, but I think they missed the mark. I would like to point out and appreciate that these stories are all told from the female perspective. My interpretation of these stories is drawn from being a mother; so I find these relatable, with the exception of “Don’t Fall.”

This anthology doesn’t have a wrap around and they do not relate to one another, so the film feels a bit choppy. Despite this, I still found some entertainment in this film. Each of the shorts have great production value, complete with their own elements and style.  “The Birthday Party” is the most memorable, but “Her Only Living Son” is the strongest all around.

 My favorite part is the interlude, it’s unique, and oddly alluring. 

Hope you enjoyed this review, stay creepy my fiends!


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(see the trailer below)



Bloody Star
2.5 out of 5 Stars


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