I’m sorry to report that this year’s “XX” doesn’t quite live up to the great horror anthology that its trailer promises. This quartet of female-directed horror shorts is actually quite average, when considered together, and I’d give it a 6 out of 10.
Only the first segment is truly memorable — “The Box,” adapted from a short story by Jack Ketchum. The directing and scoring is superb. (Seriously, the music is quite good.) The acting is also good throughout this segment, most especially by “The Strain’s” Natalie Brown. She’s a good actress and she’s starting to grow on me. (And her memorable last lines here, which I assume come from the text of Ketchum’s story, are weird and haunting.) This quarter of “XX” gets under your skin.
Despite “The Box” being capably developed and unnerving, however, there were no conventional scares at all. It hardly felt like a horror short; it was more like a particularly macabre and ambiguous parable. Nor is the story’s mystery solved — it’s left open-ended.
The second segment is largely a waste of time, despite being stylishly shot and scored. (Hint: it’s got the same story device as “Weekend at Bernie’s.”)
The remaining two tales are more standard horror stories. I’d suggest they are somewhat fair at best.
I think I would recommend this only to the most well rounded horror fans who are in the mood for something different. And, even then, it might only be for the peculiar elements of “The Box.”