Filmmakers Jovanka Vuckovic, Annie Clark, Roxanne Benjamin, and Karyn Kusama present four horrific tales of terror. In “The Box,” a boy, Played by Peter DaCunha, starts to display strange behavior after looking inside a mysterious gift box. In “The Birthday Party,” a woman, played by Melanie Lynskey, refuses to let an untimely death ruin her son’s bash. In “Don’t Fall,” an innocent camping trip turns deadly, and in “Her Only Living Son,” a mother, played by Christina Kirk, must deal with the child from hell.
I love watching collections of short horror films, like this one. Not all of them are so great or do they grab and hold on, but this one I liked well enough. Granted, it’s not the best of them but it’s very much watchable and likable. This collection was nicely done, well filmed and not too bad of acting. I do have to admit, the first film was the main one I liked and will probably remember, whereas the others are just not that memorable. At least to me. I’ll leave your opinions up to you, give it a go if this review intrigue you enough, you might just end up liking it way more than I did.
So what is XX all about anyway? First off, it’s a series of short films. In the first short we see a woman riding on a train with her two small children. Seated beside the young boy is an older man holding a large red box. Curious, as young boys are, he asks the old man what was in the box. The old man told him that it was a present. The boy then asks if he could see what was inside the box, and much to his surprise, the man obliges. After peeking inside the box, the boy begins acting quiet and strange, and he refuses to eat any food that’s offered to him. The family calls up the doctor, since it’s now clear that the boy’s lost an incredible amount of weight, yet he still refuses to eat. his sister becomes worried about her brother and goes into his room to talk to him. At one point during their talk, we see him whisper something to her and after that, she also stops eating.
It’s not long before we see that the father just can’t take it anymore. The woman and her husband begin to argue about her being able to continue to eat while their children were starving. He then goes in to talk to his children and that’s when we see the boy also whisper something into his ear. The father then stops eating too. Meanwhile, the mother is haunted by a dream of her family eating her at the dinner table. Oddly she sees her that her husband and children happily eating and she smiles, finally content that they are finally eating again.
By Christmas, her family is downright skeletal, and they don’t even seem to care. The boy then hands his mother a present that’s wrapped inside a red box. The mother then begins to remember the day they were all on the train and connects the dot to the old man holding the first red box, so she asks him what was in the box. The boy simply tells her ‘nothing’. By the end, she speaks in a voice-over saying that all three of them died of starvation and that she was the only one left. It concludes with her searching the trains for the man with the red box, and wanting answers to what was inside, feeling it is the only way to get back to her family again.
In the end, with the possible exception of the third story, I definitely feel that these stories are designed to dig into the emotional response first and foremost of mothers, secondly as wives. Regardless, they are all well-acted, the stories are interesting at least, and this is a good indie compilation worth the one-time watch of horror fans.
Release Date: January 22, 2017
Runtime: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Genre: Horror, Drama, Mystery
Studio: Magnolia Home Entertainment
Starring: Melanie Lynskey, Natalie Brown, Angela Trimbur
MPAA Rated: R
Directors: Roxanne Benjamin, Annie Clark, Karyn Kusama, Jovanka Vuckovic
Reviewed by: Mike Davidson
Our Rating: 2.4 /5
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