XX, from XYZ Films and Magnet Releasing, features four short films all directed and written by women: indeed, it is the first ever all-female horror anthology. “The Box” is written and directed by Jovanka Vuckovic (“The Captured Bird”) and based on the enigmatic short story by Jack Ketchum. “The Birthday Party” is co-written by Roxanne Benjamin and Annie Clark and directed by Clark (in her directorial debut). “Don’t Fall” is written and directed by Roxanne Benjamin (Southbound, V/H/S, and V/H/S/2). And “Her Only Living Son” is written and directed by Karyn Kusama (Jennifer’s Body and The Invitation).
Since the quality of the films in anthologies are typically uneven, I was pleasantly surprised by the high quality of all four of the short films in XX: they are all well-directed, well-written, well-acted, and all four of them offer something—some enigma—to think about after the film ends. In fact, that’s how I’d sum up what ties the films together, which is perhaps indicated in the title: each film introduces a mystery that remains a mystery—a kind of gap or hole in the story that doesn’t get filled in. X, as it were, marks the spot. X marks this central and provocative absence.
The two best entries, the two richest and most thought-provoking, are those that frame the anthology—Vuckovic’s “The Box” and Kusama’s “Her Only Living Son.”